One dead as train hits car at 100 mph

A high speed train was derailed last night as it headed to the North at 100mph after it hit a car that had crashed onto the line.

A high speed train was derailed last night as it headed to the North at 100mph after it hit a car that had crashed onto the line.

The driver of the car, whose identity had not yet been released, was killed in the accident which took place on the East Coast Main Line at 8.55pm. No train passengers were reported to be injured.

Although the train was partially derailed the engine and all the carriages remained upright.

Five years ago 10 people died after a Land Rover crashed into a train just 20 miles away from last night's crash site on the same line near Selby, North Yorkshire. Driver Gary Hart is thought to have fallen asleep at the wheel. He was later jailed for five years.

Last night, accident investigators were trying to clear the scene at Copmanthorpe, near York.

All 74 (correct- from Virgin) of the passengers on the cross-country diesel train - the 2.25pm heading North from Plymouth to Edinburgh - were led to safety, although early today it was not clear how long they had to wait to be evacuated. But rail services were seriously disrupted throughout the night, with trains delayed in either direction. All told, about nine trains were thought to have been held back, three owned by GNER and six operated by Virgin.

Passengers on these services were off-loaded at either York or Doncaster and transferred by bus.

The 7pm electrically operated train from Kings Cross to Newcastle was stranded on the track after power on the overhead lines was switched off. The GNER train then had to be hauled up to Newcastle by a special locomotive, called a Thunderbird.

Police said the accident did not take place at a level crossing and that the car ended up on the track after it left a road and crashed through a fence. A North Yorkshire police spokesman said: "The picture we have at the minute is of a car leaving the road, going through a fence, and going onto the line. It was then hit by a train from Plymouth to Edinburgh, carrying 74 passengers."

Late last night Network Rail said that three of the four tracks affected in the crash would be open this morning.

Virgin spokesman Arthur Leathley said the train had remained upright.

"The front wheels have come off the rails," he said.

"Technically, we call that a derailment, and that gives the impression of the train being on its side.

"But the amazing thing is that the train, travelling at 100mph, has stayed upright.

"These trains can do 125mph, but it was slowing down as it came into York.

"These are some of the newest trains on the network, and they underwent a lot of crash testing before they came into service.

"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."

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer