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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 September 2006, 10:20 GMT 11:20 UK
Car driver dies in rail collision
Crash scene (Picture by Steve Parrott)
Steve Parrott sent in a picture of the emergency services at the scene
A driver has died in Yorkshire when his car crashed through a fence on to a rail track and was hit by a train travelling at about 100mph.

None of the 75 passengers on the 1425 Virgin train from Plymouth to Edinburgh was hurt in Monday's collision at the village of Copmanthorpe, near York.

Police said the car left a country road next to the line at about 2055 BST. The driver was a 55-year-old local man.

The train's front wheels left the rails in the crash, but it stayed upright.

Virgin spokesman Arthur Leathley said: "Technically, we call that a derailment, and that gives the impression of the train being on its side."

He said the East Coast Main Line train could reach speeds of 125mph, but it was slowing down as it approached York and had been travelling at about 100mph at the time of the collision.

The train's driver was uninjured, he said.

"There is a crumple zone in the nose of the train that is designed to absorb a lot of the force of any impact and it appears that this is exactly what happened."

Map of crash scene

North Yorkshire Police said the car had been on Moor Lane before it ploughed through a fence and onto the track.

Police at the scene said half of the vehicle was still under the train half a mile away from where the accident happened.

Speaking beside the track, Inspector Graham Bridges, of British Transport Police, said it was a devastating high-speed impact.

He said investigations were at an early stage and officers did not know at that stage why the driver crashed through the fence.

He said: "There are a number of possibilities and we agree that it was possible he had done it deliberately.

"The road is clearly marked as a dead end and is fenced off.

"It's difficult to see what more could have been done."

Passengers were taken to York station by bus following the accident.

One passenger, Dave Lamport, from Stockton-on-Tees, said the driver had sounded the horn before an impact was felt.

"I was right at the front of the front carriage, right behind the driver and as it was hitting every sleeper, just bang, bang, bang, bang, bang," he told the BBC.

He described being thrown about the carriage and "praying" for the train to slow, adding: "Eventually we stopped and we were upright, which was the main thing."

Crash scene (Picture by Peter Brett)
Emergency crews helped passengers to safety. Picture: Peter Brett

British Transport Police, fire and ambulance crews were all called to the scene.

A woman, who lives opposite the railway line told the BBC News website the collision had caused her house to shake.

"We could see a train stopped on the tracks and the passengers looking bewildered," she said.

"We ran to the drivers' carriage, which was obviously derailed. One of the drivers got out and asked us where they were... Our houses are so close we were just relieved it hadn't derailed completely."

There was some overnight disruption to services in the York area as a result of the accident, but Network Rail said three lines through the crash scene were now open and normal passenger services had resumed, with minimal disruption.

The collision took place about 20 miles from Selby, where, in 2001, a Land Rover ended up on the rail track, causing a train derailment that left 10 people dead.

Land Rover driver Gary Hart, of Strubby, Lincolnshire, was jailed for five years in 2002 after being convicted of 10 charges of causing death by dangerous driving.

See the latest on the police investigation


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