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Last Updated: Monday, 7 July, 2003, 19:54 GMT 20:54 UK
Safety rule ignored before train crash
Scene of the crash
Investigators are at the scene of the crash

Safety procedures were not followed at the scene of a crash between a train and a mini-bus in which three people died on Monday, say investigators.

British Transport Police say drivers crossing the line in Worcestershire are supposed to use a special phone to check no trains are coming, but the phone was not used on this occasion.

Five other people in the mini-bus were injured, two seriously, when it was hit by a First Great Western train.

The crash, involving the 0703 BST train from Hereford to London Paddington with about 150 passengers on board, happened at Pools Crossing, Ryden Lane at Charlton between Pershore and Evesham.

A spokeswoman said: "The Health and Safety Executive has examined the crossing and is happy that there is nothing untoward.

"Inquiries have revealed that no call was received at the signal box prior to the incident."

The minibus was due to be removed from the scene by 1700 BST, she said.

The three dead were in the minibus and are believed to be Iraqi Kurd labourers who were in the area picking spring onions.

POOLS CROSSING TRAIN CRASH
0824 BST train collides with a minibus
Three people killed
Seven people injured
The train was First Great Western Hereford to London

The unmanned private crossing is on the main line between Hereford and London Paddington and is on farmland.

Network Rail said the crossing, its telephone and the warning and instruction signs were all in perfect working condition.

The company said it wrote to the farmer on 17 January 2002, to remind him of the requirement to use the crossing correctly and warned that misuse could lead to prosecution.

Network Rail said in May 2003, it visited the farmer personally to remind him of his safety obligations, and to check the crossing was properly signed and working.

Seriously injured

The farmer himself used the crossing correctly at 0803 BST on Monday, but the next call from the crossing was to say an accident had happened.

A spokesman for the Rail Safety and Standards Board said there had been two near misses at the crossing since 1995.

He said: "Since 1 January 1995, there have been two occasions when a train driver reported a near-miss with a road vehicle, and a further 15 occasions when misuse of the crossing was reported - usually occasions when the telephone was not used by the road user to confirm safe passage."

A spokeswoman for Herefordshire and Worcestershire Ambulance Service said an air ambulance and five land ambulances were called to the scene and the dead were recovered from the line.

First Great Western Train involved in the crash
The train was damaged in the crash

Rose Johnson, a consultant at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital, confirmed later the casualties were men in their late 30s to early 40s.

She said the two seriously injured victims were "stable" and "reasonably comfortable".

Mid-Worcestershire MP Peter Luff, who was in the front carriage of the train at the time of the crash, said: "One of the windows broke as a result of the impact.

"There was also a great deal of damage to one of the passenger doors and the front of the train suffered a lot of damage.

"One guy sitting in my carriage with his back to the engine when the window broke was lucky.

"If he had been facing the engine he would have been one hell of a mess."

Passengers in the front first-class carriage, nearest to the point of impact, were showered in glass as windows exploded
Eyewitness Russell Merryman

BBC journalist Russell Merryman was also on the train.

He said: "There was quite a loud bang and a lot of rattling as debris and metal went under the train.

"People jumped in their seats and we were trying to work out what was going on.

"The train braked quite quickly and there was a very heavy smell of burning as the brakes were operated."





WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's John Kay
"Railway crossings without barriers are fairly common"



SEE ALSO:
Confusion as train collides
07 Jul 03  |  Hereford/Worcs
Man killed as train hits car
14 May 03  |  Lancashire
Train hits lorry on crossing
12 Sep 01  |  UK News


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