Eye witness account: Car driver killed following crash with train near Downham Market

AN investigation was under way tonight after a man died when a train was in collision with his car on a level crossing in the Fens.

Today’s crash is the latest in a string of collisions to have occurred on crossings in the Fens between King’s Lynn and Ely.

Manuel Cortes, leader of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association union, said: “Level crossing fatalities are the biggest killer on our rail network. Road and rail just do not mix in a fast-moving transport system with trains moving at up to 90mph.

“The sooner Network Rail starts to close these potential dangerous crossings, the better it will be for both rail passengers and road users.”

The crash happened after the London-bound First Capital Connect service from King’s Lynn collided with a silver Kia Sportage, on a farm crossing between Ten Mile Bank and Welney.

Police said the driver was pronounced dead at the scene, while all 65 people on board the 1.56pm service from Lynn to King’s Cross escaped unhurt. Passengers were taken off the train to continue their journey by coaches at around 4pm.

The dead man’s name and address were not being released tonight, but his family has been informed.

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A spokesman for Magpas Helimedix, which flew doctors to the crash scene, said: “The Magpas doctor pronounced the death of a male driver of the car on the scene, our thoughts are with his family and his friends at this time.

“The Helimedix team also checked the welfare of the passengers on the train and found no one to be injured.”

The car was pushed 500yds down the line by the train, which was believed to have been travelling at 70mph when the impact occurred on a straight secion of single track. All four coaches remained on the rails.

A British Transport Police (BTP) spokesman said: “BTP officers were called to Pleasant level crossing, near Downham Market, Norfolk, following a report of a car being struck by a train.

“Norfolk and Cambridgeshire officers also attended the incident, which was reported to BTP at 1.15pm, along with local fire and ambulance services. The driver of the vehicle was pronounced dead at the scene.

“Police are currently working to establish the full circumstances including how the car came to be on the tracks.”

Train passenger Ashley Tuttle, 17, who was travelling from King’s Lynn to Cambridge on a shopping trip with her boyfriend Alex Nevozajs, said: “Suddenly we felt this massive bang and there was loads of smoke and debris flying past the window.

“It was quite scary. There was quite a lot of smoke and they didn’t really tell us what was going on for about 10 minutes.”

Witness Joshua Palmer, who lives near the crossing, was at home listening to music when he heard a loud crash.

He said he saw a cloud of smoke outside and said the car had been pushed along the tracks about 400m to the next railway crossing.

Insp Bob Munn, heading the British Transport Police investigation at the scene, said there were no suspicious circumstances and the crash was being treated as an accident.

Tonight Station Road, between Ten Mile Bank and Welney, remains closed in both directions near the Cross Drove junction.

Trains between Downham and Ely have been replaced with shuttle buses, while services to and from London are starting and terminating at Ely. Services are expected to return to normal tomorrow.

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