A brave off duty conductor climbed out of the wreckage of the derailed ScotRail train and ran to get help, it has emerged.

The train derailed near Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire, on Wednesday, leaving three people dead and six injured.

The accident happened after the 6.38am Aberdeen to Glasgow Queen Street ScotRail service crashed as heavy rain caused a landslip on the track.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told how he understood an off-duty conductor managed to get off a carriage and run to alert operators, while a member of the public raised the alarm having seen smoke billowing from the trees.

The unnamed conductor reportedly walked a mile to the nearest signal box to get phone signal, prompting officials to shut the line.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps near the scene

As the train derailed, two carriages tumbled down the embankment and went up in flames, while another seemed to have been flipped upside down.

A massive multi-agency response was launched to get to the scene and rescue as many people as possible.

Nearby, a farmer's field resembled a car park for ambulances.

Emergency services inspect the scene following the derailment of the ScotRail train

It was later announced that three had died and six were injured.

Driver Brett McCullough, 45, conductor Donald Dinnie, 58, and passenger Christopher Stuchbury, 62, sadly died in the tragedy.

Conductor Donald Dinnie who died in the Stonehaven derailment
Christopher Stuchbury, 62, sadly died in the tragedy

Network Rail said it will use in-house engineers, specialist contractors and helicopter surveys to assess dozens of sites with "similar characteristics" to the stretch of railway near Stonehaven.

It will also work with meteorologists to strengthen the information it receives about flash flooding while its engineers are reviewing the remote monitoring of high-risk sites with motion sensors and CCTV to test whether it can be improved.

The driver of the train Brett McCullough also died in the crash

The measures are in response to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps ordering the rail infrastructure body to carry out an urgent resilience review of areas affected by recent poor weather, and issue a report this month.

The Cabinet minister, who travelled to Stonehaven on Thursday, has also requested a wider assessment of the impact of the weather on the entire rail network, resulting in an interim report by September 1 and a final analysis in the autumn.