Two female British tourists have been killed and seven injured in northern India after a chartered train derailed, say police.

Derailed Kalka-Shimla toy train is seen near Parwanoo on September 12, 2015. Photo / Getty Images
Derailed Kalka-Shimla toy train is seen near Parwanoo on September 12, 2015. Photo / Getty Images

Local media report that the incident ocurred on the Kalka to Simla line, on the so-called 'toy train'. Simla is a popular destination for British holidaymakers.

One passenger, thought also to be British, was seriously injured.

Indian officials investigate at the site of the derailment of a chartered narrow gauge train at Parwanoo on the Kalka-Shimla Unesco Heritage Track on September 12, 2015. Photo / Getty Images
Indian officials investigate at the site of the derailment of a chartered narrow gauge train at Parwanoo on the Kalka-Shimla Unesco Heritage Track on September 12, 2015. Photo / Getty Images

"Two British nationals have been killed. Another (Briton) is seriously injured," S.Z.H Zaidi, a senior police official for Himachal Pradesh state, told the AFP news agency.

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Officials of the Northern Railway company said that the derailment happened close to Taksal station, which is just over one mile away from Kalka.

"Preliminary reports received from the site said that two persons have died in the accident while at least five others are injured," divisional railway manager Dinesh Kumar said.

"One full coach derailed while another derailed partially. A railway team has already reached the site. The administration provided immediate relief to the injured and made arrangements for shifting them to hospital. The railways also provided ambulances and other necessary assistance."

An investigation has now been launched.

The cause of the derailment was not immediately clear, but the Press Trust of India news agency said three carriages may have gone off the track because the train was travelling too fast.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "Following a train crash we are urgently looking into reports of British nationals affected and stand ready to provide consular support."

The train is thought to have come off the tracks around 1pm on Saturday local time.

The victims received medical attention in Kalka, before being transported to the Max Hospital in Chandigarh.

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York-based tour operator Great Rail Journeys confirmed that one of its groups had been involved in the incident, adding that "very little" was known but that its representatives were at the scene.

Great Rail Journeys chief executive Peter Liney said: "Tragically, we can confirm that two passengers died in the accident. We are working with Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to assist their relatives in travelling to India as soon as possible.

A number of other passengers were injured in the accident and were taken from the scene to a local hospital. Two passengers and the Tour Manager have been admitted overnight; we do not believe their injuries are life threatening. All other passengers have now been transferred to a hotel.

"A total of 36 passengers plus one Tour Manager were on the train when the accident took place. They were all travelling on a 13-day tour of India and were on day three. The accident took place at 1pm Indian time. The passengers were travelling on a four-carriage tourist train that had been chartered by us for the trip.

"Great Rail Journeys' local representatives are at the scene of the accident. Detailed information is awaited and will need to be verified carefully before it can be confirmed by the company.

"Great Rail Journeys has sent a Director and two Senior Managers to the scene on the first available flight departing today, Saturday 12th September, together with two qualified counsellors. Tomorrow we will be sending a further team of three experienced Tour Managers to provide on-the-spot support and assistance. The FCO is liaising with Great Rail Journeys to assist with the speedy issue of visas.

"Great Rail Journeys has been established for over 30 years and this is the first serious train accident in which we have been involved. We carry over 60,000 passengers a year, of which 2,500 travel to India.

"At present, we do not have any further details to provide and our absolute priority is to support and help the families of those people who have so tragically died, along with those in hospital in India and at the hotel.

"We will be issuing regular updates when the situation becomes clearer, but we are now entering night time in India so it is unlikely we will be adding any further to this announcement before tomorrow morning, UK time."

The company, which takes about 2,500 people to India annually, said the tour had left for the country on 10 September and was due to finish on 22 September.

In July 2010, the train derailed near Koti in Solan, injuring one passenger.

And in December 2008, one person was killed and six others were injured when three coaches of the Kalka-Simla holiday special were derailed in a tunnel in Solan district.

Dubbed the "toy train", it follows a scenic 60-mile route that includes 103 tunnels, travelling on a winding track from the town of Kalka up to Simla, the former summer capital of India during British rule.