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Thursday, 28 February, 2002, 23:41 GMT
One dead in train crash
The train and remains of the van on the track
The van driver was killed and 14 in the train injured
One person has died and 14 were injured after a van careered off the road and onto a railway line, where it was hit by a train.

The accident happened on the first anniversary of the Selby rail disaster, in which 10 people were killed in a similar incident.

In Thursday's crash the van plunged off the road, at the village of Nocton, eight miles south-east of Lincoln, at an unknown time in the afternoon.

At about 1830GMT it was hit by the two-carriage Central Trains 1542 service from Birmingham New Street to Sleaford via Lincoln.

The van was described by police as being shattered into "1,000 pieces, if not more". The train derailed but remained upright.

Inspector Dick Holmes of Lincolnshire Police said about 50 people were on the train, 14 of which - including the driver - were taken to Lincoln Country Hospital.

Their injuries were understood to be mainly whiplash, cuts and bruises and shock, and were not described as life-threatening.

A hospital spokeswoman said most were discharged after several hours, although two or three were expected to be detained overnight.

'Very lucky'

The remaining passengers were checked by paramedics and then sent home, said Mr Holmes.

He said it was "very lucky" there were not more casualties.

Gerard Burgess, a spokesman for Central Trains, agreed - saying the train would have been going relatively slowly because it had recently passed a level crossing and had not long before left Lincoln station.

Police are still baffled as to how the van - which was travelling on a quiet, dead-end road - came to crash through an 18-in wall.

Inspector Dick Holmes of Lincolnshire Police
Inspector Dick Holmes: "Very lucky" there were not more hurt
Mr Holmes said the road used to be the main B1188 but was closed some 30 years ago, to be replaced by a bypass, and now served only a few isolated farms.

He said it appeared that the van had failed to take a left-hand turn on part of the road which ran parallel to the track, and plunged through the brick wall onto the line about 20 feet (six metres) below.

He said the crash site would remain cordoned off for some time while damage was cleared and investigations carried out.

Selby reports

The incident comes only three days after two reports were issued into the Selby accident, one of which said a repeat of such a disaster could be expected only about every 300 to 400 years.

Police put tarpaulin over the van remains
Why the van came off the road remains a mystery
In that incident, 10 people died when a Land Rover plunged off the M62 and onto the East Coast mainline, to be hit by a passenger train which then collided with a goods train.

Both reports called for further research into the possible sites where there was a high risk of road vehicles getting on to rail lines.

Rail Passengers Council national director Anthony Smith said it was vital to find out what happened in the Lincoln crash, to prevent further accidents in future.

"If this latest incident reveals some weakness in rail defences against road incursion, let's ensure things are put right as soon as possible."

A casualty bureau for people concerned about the welfare of relatives has been set up: 01522 558888.

The BBC's Sarah Study
"It ploughed straight on through a wall"

click here to go to Lincolnshire
See also:

28 Feb 02 | England
Relatives remember Selby dead
25 Feb 02 | England
Call to boost bridge safety
28 Feb 01 | UK
When road meets rail
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