An off-duty rail worker who survived Wednesday’s deadly train derailment scrambled from the crash and walked a mile to raise the alarm.
Train driver Brett McCullough, conductor Donald Dinnie and passenger Christopher Stuchbury all died in the incident near Stonehaven. Six others were injured.
The worker, who was a passenger on board the ScotRail 6.38am Aberdeen to Glasgow service, clambered from the wreckage and headed along the track to the nearest signal box.
The woman’s actions allowed Network Rail to close the line and prevent further disaster.
A member of the public also dialled 999 after seeing smoke.
Transport secretary Michael Matheson said: “There was a call made by someone who believed that an incident had taken place locally and they contacted Police Scotland on the matter.
“There was also an off-duty railway person on the train who, after it derailed, walked around a mile to the next signal box and advised them that an incident had occurred, which allowed Network Rail at its national control centre to close the line.
“During the course of that, Police Scotland obviously dispatched their staff and Network Rail dispatched some of the staff that they had working nearby to respond to the incident.”
A rescue operation was launched with help from police, the fire service, ambulance service and coastguard.
On Friday, Prince Charles arrived to thank the emergency responders who were among the first at the scene.
Meanwhile, the Rail Accident Investigation Branch has launched a probe into the incident and investigators are at the scene.
A separate investigation will be carried out by Police Scotland, BTP and rail regulator the Office of Rail and Road.
Network Rail will inspect trackside slopes across the country as part of a Government-ordered review, as a landslip during heavy rain and flooding is suspected to have played a part in the incident