Level crossing crash: One dead as train hits car

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Media captionNetwork Rail said the train was not derailed

One person died when a train hit a car on a level crossing in Somerset.

The 05:46 service from Exeter St Davids to Paddington crashed at about 06:30 GMT near Athelney, between Taunton and Castle Cary.

No train passengers were hurt but 37 were stuck on the First Great Western (FGW) train for about six hours.

Network Rail said it believed the barriers and lights at the crossing had been working correctly but that full tests would be carried out.

The train was not derailed.

'Worst thing'

John Baker, from Network Rail, was unable to confirm whether there were any cameras at the Stanmoor Road crossing, where the crash happened.

Denis, 15, who was on the train, described hearing a "loud bang".

He was with a group of students from Exeter's Isca College of Media Arts travelling to Radio 1 for BBC School Report - an initiative to help children aged between 11 and 16 develop journalistic skills.

Image caption The crash happened on the level crossing at Stanmoor Road in Athelney

"We were talking through some questions on the train to Radio 1. At about 7am, we thought we could smell petrol and we heard a loud bang," he said.

"We were all told to go into the first-class carriages where we were informed that the train had struck a car.

"The train manager suggested we might have to climb down ladders to get off of the train."

After the car wreckage had been cleared, the train was able to return to Taunton railway station, some six miles away, where its journey was terminated at about midday.

The line reopened at about 15:00 GMT.

'Almighty bang'

Dan Panes, from FGW, said: "This is pretty much the worst thing that can ever happen to one of our train drivers.

"There is very little you can do if something appears on the track in front of you - these trains take a long time to stop."

Aaron Mead, who lives about 100 yards (90m) from the scene, said he heard an "almighty bang".

"A couple of pictures on the bedside table fell over," he said.

"Before we knew it we had endless amounts of sirens - police cars, fire engines and ambulances bombing up and down the road."

Stanmoor Road remains closed in both directions at the Cuts Road junction.

British Transport Police said the accident was not being treated as suspicious.

Network Rail said the level crossing was not deemed as "high risk", as it is on a quiet road with little traffic.

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