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Fatal crash at Somerset level crossing



Rail disruption for Westcountry after fatal crash at Somerset level crossing

Thursday March 21, 2013
Train services in and out of the Westcountry are disrupted today after a car was struck by a train at a level crossing near Taunton.
One person died when the train hit the car on a level crossing near Athelney, on the line between Taunton and Castle Cary, at around 6.30am this morning.
The scene of the crash at Athelney, between Taunton and Castle Cary, this morning. Photos: SWNS.  PHOTO'S AND VIDEO AVAILABLE AT ORIGINAL SITE. LINK AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS PAGE
It has been reported but not yet confirmed the male driver was trying to weave his red vehicle around a lowered barrier in order to cross. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
None of the 37 passengers or eight members of staff on board were injured but the two drivers in the cab are said to be "very distressed".
The nine-carriage train involved was the 5.46am service from Exeter St Davids, which was heading towards London Paddington.
Due to the incident train services in and out of the South West are disrupted, causing chaos for commuters.
A “very limited” bus replacement service is in place between Taunton and Westbury, in both directions, although journey times could be delayed by up to 90 minutes.
Passengers trying to travel between Exeter and London Paddington are advised to travel via Bristol Temple Meads.
National Rail said the following stations are affected by the disruption to services: Exeter St Davids, Tiverton Parkway, Taunton, Castle Cary, Frome, Westbury, Newbury, Reading and London Paddington.
It also said there is no current estimate for when a normal service will resume.
A spokesman for First Great Western said: “Services Westbury and Taunton are being significantly disrupted due to train striking a vehicle on a level crossing.
“Services are being diverted with extended journey times. Road replacement transport is in operation to assist with your journey in this area.”
Emergency service crews remain at the scene of the incident and fire crews have spent most of this morning trying to remove the vehicle from underneath the front of the train.
A statement released by British Transport Police confirmed the train had not derailed.
"Shortly before 6.30am, British Transport Police were called to reports of a car having been struck by a train at Athelney automatic half barrier level crossing.
"The train has not been derailed and there are no reports of any injuries to anyone on board.
"The car is trapped under the front of the train and services are currently stopped in the area."
Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service said four crews from Taunton, three from Bridgwater and appliances from Middlemoor, Street and Wincanton were working at the scene.
By mid-morning firefighters had removed the vehicle from the front of the train using hydraulic cutting equipment.
Fire crews are still at the scene assisting other emergency services and rail operators.
Video: The scene near Athelney this morning:


A spokesman for Network Rail said the incident had been confirmed as "not suspicious".
He said: "The incident was reported at 06.26am. One fatality within the car has been confirmed. The train has not derailed, and no passengers or crew were injured.

"The car is badly damaged, and is under the leading power car.
"The train driver and First Great Western staff have given a statement to British Transport Police (BTP) that the barriers were lowered and the car was seen to drive onto the crossing.
"BTP report the crime scene has been deemed non-suspicious.
"The route is currently blocked and trains are being diverted via Bristol."
Local resident Aaron Mead, who lives about 100 yards from the crossing, said: "We heard an almighty bang in the early hours of this morning. A couple of pictures on the bedside table fell over.
"I didn't think anything of it to be honest, and then before we knew it we had endless amounts of sirens, police cards, fire engines and ambulances bombing up and down the road.
"It made me jump out of bed quite quickly.
"It's quite a tight road but there are four or five fire engines, eight or nine police cars and five or six ambulances from from what we can see on this side of the bridge."
James Hector, owner of Willowbank Services less than a mile from the scene, said the barriers close very quickly.
"It's a very fast crossing," he said. "Once the barriers go down the train is there within 30 seconds.
"They are half-road barriers so it would be possible to drive around them, but you would have no chance if you did.

Read more: http://www.thisisnorthdevon.co.uk/Rail-disruption-Westcountry-fatal-crash-Somerset/story-18481673-detail/story.html#ixzz2OBIwTOYf

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