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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 October, 2003, 07:30 GMT 08:30 UK
High speed train disaster 'averted'
Stolen car
The car stopped less than two metres from the track
A gang came within less than two metres of causing a major rail disaster on the high speed Channel Tunnel rail link after pushing a stolen car down a steep bank.

The vehicle came to a halt in gravel alongside the line at Meopham, near Gravesend, at 1700 BST on Sunday.

Detectives say the car was pushed through a seven-feet-high metal security gate after the gang sawed through a locked padlock.

Police say the incident could have caused a disaster "of epic proportions" on the Eurostar line to London.

The track is part of the first section of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link that runs from Folkestone to Fawkham Junction. Eurostar trains are capable of travelling at 186mph along the link.

Train drivers were forced to slow down until the vehicle, which was spotted by a member of the public, could be removed by engineers.

Serious intent

Superintendent Colum Price, of British Transport Police, said: "This was an extremely serious criminal offence.

"These were determined individuals who made every effort possible to get the car down onto the track.

"To say that we have averted a disaster of epic proportions is putting it mildly.

"To push a car down an embankment that steep onto a railway line with trains running that fast, must mean they knew what they were doing."

A reward of 5,000 is being offered for information that leads to a conviction of the gang involved.

Rush hour delays on Eurostar
27 May 03  |  London
High-speed Channel link opens
16 Sep 03  |  England

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