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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 March, 2005, 15:17 GMT
Train hits van on mainline route
Great Bowden rail crash scene
Accident investigators at the scene of Tuesday's crash
Rail services were thrown into chaos after a train hit a van when it crashed down a bank on to the London-bound line in Leicestershire.

The vehicle plunged off the A6 Market Harborough bypass on Tuesday morning.

It careered down a bank on to the track and was hit by the 0521 Sheffield to London service that was carrying about 100 passengers but did not derail.

No injuries were reported on the train. The van driver managed to escaped from the vehicle before the crash.

Emergency services were called to a bridge carrying the A6 over the rail line, near Great Bowden.

It is bad enough what we have got here - but it could have been so much worse
Insp Jamie Fulks, British Transport Police

The driver of the red Vauxhall Astra van, a man in his 30s, was taken to Kettering General Hospital with facial injuries.

His work tools from the van were spread over the track.

A British Transport Police spokesperson said: "It looks as if a red Vauxhall van came off the bridge on the A6 and got on to the track.

"We understand the driver managed to scramble clear before the train struck."

Passengers were transferred from the train, which suffered extensive damage in the impact, onto another train to take them away from the crash scene.

'Fully investigated'

Passenger Nick Sellors, from Derby, said: "The Midland Mainline staff told us that a contractor's car fell off a bridge and the driver jumped out just before we hit him."

Crash debris was removed from the line with the first services passing through Market Harborough northbound by lunchtime.

A near-normal service was expected for Tuesday evening's rush hour, and a full service on the line on Wednesday.

Great Bowden rail crash scene
The wreck of the van hit by a Midland Mainline train on Tuesday

Anna Statham, from Midland Mainline, said: "[The crash] is being investigated.

"It is a serious incident and we will be investigating thoroughly."

Insp Jamie Fulks, of British Transport Police, said it was fortunate the car driver could see the trouble ahead on the tracks.

He said: "It is bad enough what we have got here, but it could have been so much worse."

"It is fortunate the [car] driver could see the danger ahead with the vehicle on the line and he could take the appropriate steps to try and minimise the collision."

Leicestershire Police and British Transport Police are carrying out a joint investigation, with accident investigators spending the rest of the day at the scene.

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