Transport police have said it is a ‘miracle’ a train involved in an 80mph crash in South Yorkshire did not overturn after vandals drove plant machinery on to the line.
British Transport Police have revealed more details about the CrossCountry train crash on Friday that caused huge disruption to much of the northern rail network.
Officers were called to the line just outside Swinton railway station in Mexborough at 6.09am on Friday morning after the train collided with the large piece of plant machinery.
Three crew members on the otherwise empty train were left ‘shaken’ but unhurt from the collision, while extensive damage was caused to the train.
Police said today they now believe it was a deliberate attempt to derail the train and the potential consequences if there had been passengers on board were ‘unthinkable’.
Detective Chief Inspector Iain Miller said: “The train, which was travelling at about 80 mph, stuck the machine, which we believe had been driven onto the tracks, and sustained extensive damage. The train was an empty stock train, no passengers were on board and the driver was uninjured.
“The incident resulted in disruption to services throughout the area on Friday whilst an investigation began to look at how the piece of machinery came to be on the track.
“We believe this was a deliberate attempt to derail a train. The fact that the train managed to stay on the tracks and upright after striking this obstruction is quite simply a miracle. The consequences if this had also been a busy commuter service would have been unthinkable.”
Detectives are now appealing for anyone who may have been in the area at the time of the incident to contact them as a matter of urgency.
DCI Miller added: “This was a reckless and criminal act. I would appeal to anyone who may have any information which may be able to assist us in finding those responsible to contact us.
“Were you in Swinton station vicinity, particularly around the High Thorne and Meadow View Road areas, between 5 and 7am on Friday morning? Perhaps you were heading out to work? Did you witness anyone acting suspiciously or running away from the area?
“If so, I would urge you come forward straight away as it’s imperative that we find those responsible and bring them to justice as soon as possible.”
The train suffered extensive damage to its front and undercarriage in the incident and could only be moved from the track at 5pm - with the blockage causing delays and disruption.
The incident caused disruption to Northern Rail services between Leeds, Doncaster and Sheffield, CrossCountry services between Newcastle, Birmingham New Street and down to Plymouth and Reading, as well as First TransPennine Express services between Cleethorpes and Manchester Airport.
Replacement bus services were put on between Meadowhall and Doncaster and Meadowhall and Moorthorpe during the disruption.
If you have information about the incident – or those responsible – ring British Transport Police on Freefone 0800 40 50 40 or text on 61016 quoting background log PSUB/ B9 of 7/11/2014, or call the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.