Horror at 100mph as train hits car


Last updated at 20:11 01 March 2007

This mangled lump of metal is virtually all that was left of a Vauxhall Astra after it was hit by a 100mph commuter train.

The driver was killed instantly when the train ploughed into his car on a level crossing.

A large chunk of the vehicle was thrown by the side of the track 200 yards from the crossing.

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train crash

The rest was shunted another mile-and-a-half down the track before coming to rest under the front of the locomotive.

The collision took place at 7.25am within yards of houses in Swainsthorpe, near Norwich.

Amazingly, the train - which had 44 passengers and two crew on board - stayed on the track.

Its driver was taken to hospital suffering from smoke inhalation and 14 passengers were treated at the scene for shock.

The motorist had last night not been named.

British Transport Police say they are treating the incident as an accident rather than suicide.

They believe the car was moving when it was struck by the 6.22am One service from Colchester to Norwich.

One theory is that the driver was hurrying to work and ignored warning lights to drive around the automatic half-barrier.

It was the second fatal accident at the level crossing in the last 15 months.

Darrell Sheens, 45, was killed in November 2005 when his Ford Escort was struck by a three-carriage train also operated by One.

One of the passengers on the train in the incident, trainee electrician Matt Hobson, 16, said: "We heard a big bang and there were stones flying everywhere. We thought we had come off the track.

"People were very shocked and then the windows started steaming up and there was a strong smell of diesel.

"We were told to go to the back of the train. They put a ladder up to one of the doors and people managed to get out."

Network Rail and the Rail Accident-Investigation Branch will look into the collision.

Passengers on the eight-carriage train completed their journeys by coach. The line between Diss and Norwich was closed, but it is hoped normal services will resume this weekend after debris has been cleared and the rails checked.

Earlier this week the Office of Rail Regulation warned that Britain's 7,700 level crossings represented the greatest risk of train accidents that could kill passengers.

It called for a ban on new crossings and for existing ones to be removed, replaced or have safety improvements.

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