Wales

Whitland train crash: Lorry driver, 48, is arrested

  • 19 December 2011
  • From the section Wales

The driver of a hay lorry hit by a train on a level crossing in Carmarthenshire has been arrested.

Seven people on the Milford Haven to Manchester service suffered minor injuries near Whitland at 09:50 GMT.

Passengers were led to safety and shuttle buses are now running between Milford Haven and Carmarthen. Engineers are assessing the damage.

British Transport Police (BTP) said a 48-year-old local man was being held on suspicion of endangering safety.

Some passengers said they were amazed no-one was seriously hurt.

Five people were taken to hospital after the crash.

Arriva Trains Wales said just under 60 passengers were on its 09:10 Milford Haven to Manchester service when the crash happened at the Llanboidy level crossing on a minor road near a spot called Crossing Cottage.

BTP's sector commander for Wales, Sandra England, said: "Our investigation is continuing into the cause of the collision, including piecing together exactly how the vehicle came to be on the tracks at the time.

"As part of that investigation, the driver of the vehicle, a 48-year-old man from Llanboidy, Whitland, has been arrested this afternoon on suspicion of endangering safety.

"He has been taken to a police station in Haverfordwest, where he is assisting my officers with their enquiries.

"Measures are now in place to remove the vehicle from the tracks but in the meantime, the road on both sides of the crossing remains closed."

Passenger Skip Maloney told BBC Wales of the moments leading up to the crash.

"The [train] driver slowed down just before we hit," he said.

'Completely crushed'

He said he carried out first aid on a woman sat behind him but no-one suffered serious injuries.

"I think everyone was suffering from shock a bit," he added.

Juan Giner who was travelling home to Spain said: "Everything was fine and suddenly the train stopped in a very strong way - very dramatically.

"The train continued for 100 yards moving the lorry along.

"It's incredible that the driver of the train survived because the whole of his room was completely crushed.

"I'm really thinking this could be an incredible tragedy."

Emergency repairs

Network Rail said all passengers had been led to safety.

This police image shows the vehicle alongside the train

A spokesperson said: "Engineers are currently assessing the damage to the rail infrastructure and train respectively.

"Emergency repairs will be carried out once investigation is completed."

Work has started to prepare for emergency repairs and a crane has been commissioned to lift the lorry away from the track.

Network Rail engineers are expected to work through the night to restore services to normal as quickly as possible.

Train services between Carmarthen and Milford Haven have been cancelled and an amended service will be provided for by Arriva Trains Wales from Wednesday morning.

Passengers are advised to check with National Rail Enquiries or Arriva Trains Wales before starting their journey.

A spokesperson for the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) said it had an inspector on site.

"ORR will work with the BTP and other agencies to find out exactly what happened and quickly identify the causes of this incident," they added.

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