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Last Updated: Monday, 8 November, 2004, 08:10 GMT
Trains are 'safest way to travel'
Crash scene
British Transport Police are investigating the crash
Transport minister David Jamieson has said trains are still the safest land-based way to travel.

He was talking while praising emergency services for rescue of passengers after the Paddington to Plymouth train hit a car on a crossing on Saturday.

Seven people died and more than 70 people were injured after the crash on an automated level crossing.

Plymouth MP Mr Jamieson said the Rail Inspectorate and British Transport Police were investigating the crash.

These sorts of incident are extremely rare
David Jamieson MP

Investigators are focusing on evidence suggesting a car driver committing suicide caused the rail crash.

The driver was among those killed when a First Great Western train hit his car at a level crossing near Ufton Nervet.

Mr Jamieson said the government's thoughts were with those who lost friends and family in what he called a "dreadful tragedy".

He added: "The emergency services must also be praised for an excellent job in getting people out who were injured.

"What we have to do now is allow the investigation to take place over the next few days the by the British Transport Police and Rail Inspectorate.

"Hopefully that will give us some interim findings as to how this happened and what could have been done to prevent it."

Road accident

On reports that the car driver was attempting to commit suicide, Mr Jamieson said: "They are only allegations. We don't know that and I think it's wrong to speculate as to how or why it happened.

"These sorts of incident are extremely rare. It's been 18 years since anyone on a train has been killed by a vehicle being on a crossing. But, nonetheless, it's very tragic and worrying.

"We also have to remember that this is partly a road accident because someone from the road has gone onto the crossing.

"Trains are still the safest way of land transport in this country. We have a very good record and have to remember that, every day in the UK, 10 people a day are killed on roads.

"This is still a very safe way of travelling, though that may cause no comfort for those involved."




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