Rail crash at Woodbridge

RAIL services between Ipswich and Lowestoft were getting back to normal today after being brought to a halt by a level crossing accident at Woodbridge.

RAIL services between Ipswich and Lowestoft were getting back to normal today after being brought to a halt by a level crossing accident at Woodbridge.

Elderly couple Peter and Margaret Hill, of Melton Park had a lucky escape in the accident when their car was in collision with the slow-moving train,

No one was hurt in the accident at the crossing at the town's railway station shortly after 9.30am today.

The train was leaving the station when it was in collision with a car on the crossing.

"The train was just pulling away and would only have been travelling at four or five miles an hour," said Anglia Railways spokesman Peter Meades.

The accident was on the same East Suffolk line as the Blaxhall crash last year – also on an unmanned level crossing.

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"There are no indications that there was anything wrong with the crossing," said Mr Meades.

"The system there is very safety-conscious. The driver has to get out of the cab and press a plunger to set the lights and klaxon going on the crossing.

"There is then a light on a warning board in front of the train showing that the lights are working.

"The driver sounds the horn and then pulls off, the crossing is only about 20 metres from the end of the platform."

If there was a problem with the crossing, the driver would not be able to proceed and would have to call in to Anglia Railways' control centre to report what was happening. There was no call from the driver.

The train was not derailed in the accident, and Anglia Railways staff do not think it was damaged – but it will not be put back into service until engineers have carried out a full examination.

The accident closed the line for the whole morning, but following an inspection of the crossing by engineers from infrastructure company Network Rail – formerly Railtrack – the line was reopened at lunchtime.

Ironically today's accident happened on the day Anglia announced that safety on rail services in the region had been boosted by the introduction of a new protection system – 11 months ahead of schedule.

The Train Protection and Warning System (TPWS) is designed to stop trains within 200 metres if they pass a red signal.

All Anglia Railways trains have now had the system installed – and almost all tracks in the region have also had transmitters fixed.

The only line still awaiting these transmistters is the East Suffolk line through Woodbridge – although even if the system had been fully installed, it would not have prevented today's crash.

The government's Health and Safety Executive insisted that the system should be installed on all lines across the country by the end of 2003 as part of the recommendations following the inquiry into the Southall and Paddington disasters.

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