Passengers escape as train hits bus stuck on track

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The Independent Online

A group of passengers escaped from a minibus trapped on a level crossing seconds before a train, travelling at about 60mph, crashed into their vehicle.

A group of passengers escaped from a minibus trapped on a level crossing seconds before a train, travelling at about 60mph, crashed into their vehicle.

Nine passengers were on the minibus when it became trapped by the automatic barriers at a level crossing at Pooley Green, near Egham, Surrey, at 9.15am yesterday. As the empty commuter train bore down on them, its horn blaring, the bus driver led them to safety.

The impact derailed the front carriage of the eight-car South West Trains train, which was left lying across the tracks at an angle of 30 degrees, blocking the line in both directions. The minibus was shunted 70 yards across gardens and into the wall of a cottage.

Beryl Manning, 68, who lives opposite the level crossing, was putting out her dustbin when she heard the train's horn. She said: "It got louder and louder and all of a sudden there was an almighty crash.

"There were a couple of people who looked like they were in a bit of shock. They told me they had jumped off the bus."

Railtrack confirmed the bus had been trapped by traffic while trying to cross the track. A spokesman said: "There was a queue from the roundabout down the road while the bus was on the crossing.

"The automatic barrier came down and the driver managed to get all the passengers out in time."

Inspector Robert Squibb, of British Transport Police, said: "It's a miracle nobody was hurt. If there had been people either on the bus or train then they would certainly have been badly injured."

The empty train was travelling from Staines to Virginia Water, where it was due to form a passenger service, South West Trains said. The train driver suffered minor cuts and bruises but refused hospital treatment.

The rail inspectorate has launched an investigation.

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