Tractor hit by train in Norfolk had approval to cross line

The damaged train Image copyright Rail Accident Investigation Branch
Image caption The tractor driver was taken to hospital with serious injuries after the accident on 10 April near Thetford

The driver of a tractor which was hit by a train at nearly 85mph on a level crossing in Norfolk had been given permission to cross, a preliminary accident report has found.

The tractor driver was taken to hospital with serious injuries after the accident on 10 April near Thetford.

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch report reveals a signaller gave him permission to cross.

The report says drivers checked if it was safe by ringing a signaller.

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"At the time of the accident they had to use the telephone to obtain permission from a signaller at Cambridge, before going over the crossing.

Image copyright Alex Youngs
Image caption Emergency services were called at about 12:30 to the Abellio Greater Anglia train

" In 2012, the crossing had been provided with red and green lights which informed users whether it was safe to cross, but this equipment had been intentionally decommissioned at the time of the accident.

"The tractor driver was given permission to cross the line, and had reached the mid-point of the crossing when his vehicle was struck by train 1K77, the 12:03 Norwich to Cambridge service, which was travelling at 84 mph (135 km/h).

"There were 135 passengers and two crew on the train, which did not derail and came to a stop 410 metres beyond the crossing."

At the time of the crash one eyewitness described being on the train when it hit the tractor with "a loud bang and a hell of a jolt".

Chris Last, from Brighton, said he thought the train would tip over but said fellow passengers' injuries were relatively minor "compared to the carnage there was".

Image copyright Alex Youngs
Image caption The train was the 12:03 service between Norwich and Cambridge

Another passenger, Alex Youngs, heard "an almighty bang".

"What followed from that was showers of glass from the imploded windows... a few people screaming and then suitcases flying around," he said.

"Everyone was just sort of holding on because no-one knew what was coming next and it did feel as though we might derail."

It is not known when the final report will be ready for publication.

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