Standoff as man threatened to throw himself onto railway tracks
TRAIN services were thrown into chaos after a man threatened to throw himself from a railway bridge in Cheltenham.
Bosses at Network Rail issued a warning saying the 47-year-old was standing on top of Cloddymore footbridge, in Up Hatherley.
British Transport Police were initially said to have refused to go near the man following reports – which later proved incorrect - he might be carrying a weapon.
A tense standoff ensued as a trained negotiator was summoned to talk the man down.
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The incident caused chaos among rail commuters as trains passing through Cheltenham Spa station were put on hold.
After over an hour of talks, the man was persuaded to climb down via the steps without harming himself.
Police detained the man, who lives in the town, under the mental health act.
A spokesman for Network Rail, said: "The situation was resolved successfully with no harm to the man concerned.
"Although some of our services were affected, delays were kept to a minimum."
The alarm was initially raised shortly after 3pm when a train driver spotted the man on top of the footbridge, near Draycot Road.
Seven police cars, including officers from British Transport police, swarmed to the scene, cordoning off the area around the bridge and ordering people to move away from the area.
Worried residents living nearby came out into the street to find out what the commotion was all about.
One man, who would not be named, said: "I have lived here for 40 years and I've never seen so many police in one place.
"The footbridge is a shortcut used by children to get to school and a lot of dog walkers use it too."
Trains resumed running at around 4.30pm. During the standoff 13 services suffered cancellations while another nine were hit by delays.
A police spokesman said: "The incident was reported at around 3.15pm by a train driver who was concerned for the welfare of a man on a bridge in Cheltenham.
"Trains were called to a halt for the safety of the man and commuters and a negotiator was sent to the scene.
"The situation was resolved by 4.30pm after the man was successfully persuaded to come down via a safe route."