Fatal smash at level crossing prompts safety calls
One person has been killed after their car was hit by a train at a level crossing and completely destroyed.
The car had been driven onto a level crossing while the barriers were lowered yesterday morning at the Stanmoor Road crossing near Athelney in Somerset. There were 37 passengers and eight crew on board the train, none of whom were hurt.
The 5.46am service from Exeter to London Paddington hit the car just before 6.26am. It caused significant disruption to rail services between Taunton and Westbury, and the train involved in the crash finally returned to Taunton station at lunchtime.
The incident has been deemed non-suspicious, and the half-road barriers were already closing when the car came onto the tracks, meaning the driver would have had to weave around it to cross.
A British Transport Police spokesperson said yesterday: “Shortly before 6.30am this morning BTP was called to reports of a car having been struck by a train at Athelney automatic half barrier level crossing.
“There was one person in the car who has been pronounced dead at the scene. An investigation is under way to establish the full circumstances leading up to the incident.”
Network Rail added: ‘The car is badly damaged and is under the leading power car. The train driver and First Great Western staff have given a statement to British transport police that the barriers were lowered and the car was seen to drive on to the crossing.”
RMT transport union general secretary Bob Crow said the latest fatality would ‘shine the spotlight on safety issues at level crossings’.
He added: “RMT has been campaigning for many years to speed up the phasing-out of level crossings which are a 19th century solution in an age of high-speed railways.
“Wherever road and track come together there is a clear and present danger and as we see far too often it is a lethal combination and the time has come to get serious about addressing this issue – cost should not override public and staff safety.”
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Image c. Tim Ireland/PA Wire