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Passengers tell of crash horror

PUBLISHED: 11:55 09 December 2002 | UPDATED: 13:09 03 March 2010

AN INVESTIGATION is underway today after a train struck a car at a level crossing.

Train services running as normal today following Saturday's crash on the 16.16 Cambridge to Ipswich line at Six Mile Bottom, a Cambridgeshire village close to Newmarket.

AN INVESTIGATION is underway today after a train struck a car at a level crossing.

Train services running as normal today following Saturday's crash on the 16.16 Cambridge to Ipswich line at Six Mile Bottom, a Cambridgeshire village close to Newmarket.

The collision caused one set of wheels on the train to be de-railed, although the train remained upright. None of the 49 passengers or train crew were injured. The car driver had also escaped unharmed.

Four fire crews were called to the scene of the accident, where the line crosses the A1304 road, as the car burst into flames after the collision.

The car's driver and passenger managed to escape only moments before the impact. A spokesman for British Transport Police based in Cambridge was unavailable to comment today.

Debris from the car was scattered all over the track.

Anglia Railways spokesman Jonathan Denby said Railtrack, the body responsible for safety on the track, was launching an investigation.

He said the crash happened seconds after the car had collided with the unmanned wooden signal room.

He said: "It is very much being treated as a road traffic accident which had impact on the railway. We are obviously extremely pleased and relieved no body was injured at the time."

The train involved will be out of action for a couple of weeks.

Now calls have been made for the automatic half-barriers in use at the scene of the accident at Six Mile Bottom – which involved 49 train passengers – to be scrapped in favour of a full gate-style control system.

Dozens of the stunned people on board took refuge in the village's Green Man pub.

Maureen Eaton, who was bound for Felixstowe to see her son, said: "The train juddered down the tracks for what seemed like a considerable time – we couldn't tell if it had been derailed for sure, but it felt like it had.

"There seemed to be a stunned and shocked silence, but the staff were really brilliant and came through straight away to explain what had happened and to make sure everyone was all right."

Anna Brookfield, from Ipswich, who is studying at Jesus College, Cambridge, was on her way home when the accident happened.

She said: "We were shaken about, but no-one was thrown out of their seat – if the train had been crowded and people had been standing up, it would have been very different. I saw my life flash before me. We're all just so grateful everyone is okay."

Teenage soldier Ricky Glew, who is based at RAF Wattisham with 4 Regiment of the Army Air Corps, recalled a huge bang and then a prolonged juddering.

"We knew something had happened at the level crossing. The carriages kept crashing into each other like a concertina – that was the most frightening part," he said.

"But this could have been a lot worse. We could all have been killed – there's no telling what could happen when a train hacking along at 60mph collides with a car.

"I was very impressed by the staff. They handled it very well – there was a lot of confusion and they all kept very cool heads."

The 18-year-old called for the use of half-barriers at the Six Mile Bottom to be looked at and added: "I feel if there was a full barrier, this sort of thing might not happen."

Joy Bensley, from Stowmarket, was returning home from a day out in Cambridge with her daughter Sarah, four, and 15-month-old son James, when the crash happened.

She desperately clung on to her children when she realised what was happening and recalled: "There was a bang and the train started to judder and I just held on to the children until we came to a stop. I was relieved when it was over and am just glad no-one was injured."

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