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Man dies after car struck by train on Somerset level crossing
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- Incident happened at 6.30am on Thursday near Athelney
- 37 passengers and eight staff on train 'uninjured'
- Service was the 5.46am from Exeter to London Paddington
- Passengers disembarked at Taunton station just before 12noon
4:16pm Thu 21 Mar 13
Let's not draw any conclusions just yet - we don't know if this was human error or systems failure.
My thoughts are with the family of the person who has lost their life in this awful incident... as well as the poor train driver who had absolutely no chance to avoid it...
Hello. Ollie here until 22:00. The line is closed between #Taunton & Castle Cary due to earlier level crossing incident. Other routes okay.— @FGW 21 March 2013
THE destroyed vehicle is removed from the scene.
THE full length of the train which struck the car this morning.
THE scene where the train and car came to rest.
Senior Fire Commander Paul Cregan said: "This incident was a significant challenge causing a number of dangerous and difficult circumstances for our Fire & Rescue crews.
"The train struck the vehicle and then carried it along the tracks eventually stopping over a mile from the crossing.
"Firefighters had to run to the scene carrying equipment to deal with the person trapped in the car, deal with the very real risk of a fire occurring as well as dealing with nearly 40 people on the train in terrible weather conditions.
"Each member of the emergency services did their task exceptionally well and together, as a multi agency team, we resolved the incident thankfully without significant injury or disruption to those involved.”
Incident Commander Mark Andrews said: "Our crews from Taunton, Bridgwater, Street, Middlemoor , Wiveliscombe, Wellington and Burnham worked exceptionally hard under difficult conditions to deal with the incident.
"Without their quick response and that of our emergency service partners, the incident could have been much worse.
"My thanks go to our Police colleagues in Avon & Somerset Constabulary, British Transport Police and South Western Ambulance Service as well as the local community for their work, support and patience during this incident.”
Fire commanders at the scene of the Athelney train incident praise emergency crews for their actions http://t.co/VhkVoQHrHp via @sharethis— @DSFireUpdates 21 March 2013
ANOTHER view of the crossing at Athelney.
THE train after it returned to Taunton Railway Station earlier.
EMERGENCY services at Taunton Railway Station.
THE wreckage of the car which was struck by the train has now been removed from the tracks near the scene of the collision at Athelney.
#Taunton. Owing to a problem at a level crossing near Taunton, all lines are still blocked. Expect delays of up to 90 minutes— @FGW 21 March 2013
KYLE Millett, from Wellington, was also on the train destined for a meeting in London.
He said: "We boarded at about 6.12am. We set off on time.
"A few minutes later we heard a few bumps and the train came to a stop.
"Staff told us there was an incident. The driver looked very shocked and he was with the emergency services. I think he was OK.
"I have to give compliments to the staff because they looked after us very well with food and drinks.
"The worst thing was not knowing what had happened initially. As soon as it happened I could smell diesel from the car. It was an ordeal."
ANOTHER passenger, Lucy Johnson, has praised the actions of the train staff.
She said: "We were very well looked-after. Our thoughts are with the victim and the train driver."
MICHAEL Haley, from Monksilver, was a passenger on the train and regularly makes the journey from his home to London.
He said: "There was a bang. You could tell there was some impact and clattering.
"You could tell the brakes were on and it came to a halt about a quarter of a mile later. It was a sad thing to happen."
FOOTAGE from the railway tracks near the level crossing:
ONE of the train drivers who was in the cab at the time of the collision has disembarked at Taunton Railway Station.
STUART Lambert, from Taunton, was on the train.
He said: "I felt a slight shudder, that was the first I knew and then we were told a car had skipped the level crossing.
"The train company were awesome. They looked after us really well."
Mr Lambert said he was on the train for five hours.
1218 London Paddington to Taunton due 1441: will no longer call at Theale, Thatcham, Newbury, Hungerford, Bedwyn, Pewsey, Westbury &...— @JourneyCheckFGW 21 March 2013
Emergency services standing by for train arriving from earlier level crossing incident http://t.co/Yzj6BWURDK— @GazetteDMilli 21 March 2013
NEW: No trains between Taunton and Westbury until further notice. A problem at a level crossing is causing ... http://t.co/RmPFb9znyv #fb— @nationalrailenq 21 March 2013
INVESTIGATIONS into how the car came to be struck by the train are focussing on why the vehicle was on the track at the half-barrier crossing on the Somerset Levels.
PASSENGERS on the 5.46am service from Exeter to London are expected to disembark from the train at Taunton in the next 10 minutes.
Those who boarded at Exeter will have been on the train for more than six hours. First Great Western staff have been offering passengers tea and coffee in the first class carriage since the incident at 6.30am.
VIDEO footage from the scene of the crash:
CAROLINE Hall, who lives next to the scene, said: "There was just a bang and the train did not stop.
"It just didn't sound right. My husband went out to see what happened and I called the police straightaway.
"There was lots of debris."
THE County Gazette understands the passengers on the train are now being taken back to Taunton train station to disembark.
We will bring you the latest from passengers who were on board the train as soon as we have it.
10:25am Thu 21 Mar 13
MBR Extreme says
This is one of those crossings where the barriers only cover half the road so its still possible to drive across if they are down always thought it is dangerous
OUR reporters and photographers are at the scene of the incident, near to where the passengers are expected to disembark.
For the latest updates, keep checking this Live Article.
STANLEY Chedzoy of nearby Slough Court Farm at Stoke St Gregory, said: "Nothing like this has happened in my lifetime and that's 88 years.
"There used to be a gate keeper and gates so no-one could get through, but since the Beeching Report in the early 1960s that all changed and they brought the barriers in.
"I am surprised they are only the half barriers, because someone could drive around them, I have always wondered why they don't put full barriers there.
"I have always thought it is dangerous for animals, as well as people."
#Taunton. Due to a level crossing incident at Taunton. Delays of up to 90 minutes can still be expected.— @FGW 21 March 2013
#Taunton. There is no current estimate for when a normal service will resume.— @FGW 21 March 2013
Officers investigating at Athelney crossing near #Taunton after a car was struck by a train. One person in the car has been killed. (1/2)— @btp_uk 21 March 2013
#Taunton: All services are currently stopped in the Athelney area – please follow @nationalrailenq for travel updates. (2/2)— @btp_uk 21 March 2013
ANOTHER man, who has lived next to the crossing for 20 years but declined to give his name, spoke to our reporter at the scene.
He said: "I have never seen anything like this. It is normally quite a safe crossing."
THE County Gazette understands the person who died was a man who lived locally.
NEIGHBOUR 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."
Such sad news back home in Athelney.— @LyndseyMayhew 21 March 2013
SPEAKING at the scene of the incident, John Allen, operations manager at First Great Western, told County Gazette reporter Daniel Milligan there were two drivers in the cab of the train.
He said: "Two people driving the carriage - they will be very distressed and we are doing all we can to help them."
JAMES Hector, owner of Willowbank Services less than a mile down the road from the scene, said: "One of my employees tried to get in from that direction and had to turn around - all the roads around the crossing are closed.
"There is a police helicopter circling and there are lots of emergency services vehicles at the scene.
"It's a very fast crossing - 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.
"These roads are very dangerous at the moment. Just as during the floods, people don't taking the conditions into account on these narrow lanes."
HERE is a statement from Network Rail: “The 1A73 05.46am Exeter St Davids to Paddington service has struck a red car on the Athelney Level Crossing Automatic Half Barrier.
“The incident was reported at 06.26am.
“One fatality within the car has been confirmed.”
Network Rail says nobody else was injured.
There were 45 people on the train – 37 passengers and eight train crew.
The statement adds: “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 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.
“Fire Brigade have begun to cut and remove the vehicle from underneath the front power car.
“Road transport has been arranged for passengers at Athelney.
“The route is currently blocked and trains are being diverted via Bristol.”
BRITISH Transport Police confirms only one person was involved and they were pronounced dead at the scene.
The train was heading from Exeter to London Paddington.
Here's the scene in #Athelney where a train's hit a car. 1 person has died. Thanks to Aaron Mead for the photo 95.5FM http://t.co/JFlq4gjVVt— @bbcsomerset 21 March 2013
Hearing 1 person has dies after car hit by train at Athelney / Stoke St Gregory. I cycle over that crossing regularly. Bad start to the day.— @CidermanRuss 21 March 2013
IF you witnessed the incident, were on the train, or live locally, call our newsroom on 01823-365100.
THE scene of the incident:
ONE person has died after a train hit a car on a level crossing in Somerset this morning (Thursday 21).
The incident happened near Athelney, on the line between Taunton and Castle Cary, at about 6.30am.
No train passengers are thought to have been injured in the crash.
Stanmoor Road in Athelney has been closed in both directions.
A bus replacement service is in place between Taunton and Westbury.