Freight train driver feared for life of Felixstowe man crawling on line, court told

Freight train near miss lands Felixstowe man in court

Freight train near miss lands Felixstowe man in court - Credit: Archant

A man nearly killed by a freight train while crawling along a rail line near Felixstowe caused delays to services totalling more than 11 hours, a court has heard.

Ipswich magistrates were told train driver Matthew Love feared he had killed Robert Schwer, of Brightwell Close, Felixstowe, during the incident on July 6.

Mr Love was unable to stop in time and went past the spot when Schwer was last seen before the train came to a halt.

After getting out of his cab, Mr Love walked back along the track to see 51-year-old Schwer sitting, propped up against the wheel of the train, prosecutor Lucy Miller said. The incident occurred at around 6.30pm at the Grimston Lane crossing, Trimley St Martin.

Mrs Miller said the delays caused to rail services totalled 426 minutes. The incident cost Network Rail £12,096.

Mr Love was driving a Freightliner heading towards Felixstowe when he saw Schwer crawling on his hands and knees between two running rails. He sounded the train’s horn, but Schwer did not move out of the way.

The court heard Mr Love applied the emergency brakes and was in “considerable fear” Schwer was about to be killed.

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The train came to a halt past the spot where Schwer had been seen. Mr Love, and a nearby resident, found him leaning against a wheel, Schwer swore at the driver and said he was going to go home.

He then attempted to crawl away, but the resident and driver restrained him. Schwer was said to be aggressive until police arrived.

Schwer told police he had been living rough and had not eaten for three or four days. He had not drunk any water, but had been drinking alcohol and collapsed on the rail line.

Schwer said he had not wanted to kill himself and admitted he had an alcohol dependency and had bipolar disorder.

John Hughes, mitigating, said Schwer had mental health issues which were exacerbated when he drank alcohol. Since the incident he has sought help.

Mr Hughes said: “I think Mr Schwer is aware he could have been killed.”

Magistrates told Schwer, who admitted trespassing on the rail line, he had caused an innocent train driver to be “totally frightened”.

Schwer was given a 12-month conditional discharge and must a total of £70.