Vandals are blamed for concrete block on tracks

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The Independent Online

Vandals almost derailed a train yesterday, less than a week after the Hatfield crash claimed four lives.

Vandals almost derailed a train yesterday, less than a week after the Hatfield crash claimed four lives.

A heavy metal-covered concrete block was placed on the line in the path of the 12.10pm Ipswich to Felixstowe service. A disaster was averted when the driver spotted the obstruction and applied the emergency brakes.

"Had the train hit the blockit could have been derailed," Inspector Richard Allison, of British Transport Police, said. "The people who did this have placed passengers' lives in danger - it is just beyond comprehension, especially after last week's crash. This was an extremely heavy piece of concrete, so the consequences could have been fatal."

A police spokesman said an investigation had been launched into the "very serious" incident. "To put it in perspective, the offence of deliberately blocking a railway line can carry a life sentence," he said.

The incident is being treated as an act of vandalism and investigators suspect the concrete - a block 24in by 14in that would normally have been used to clad signposts - may have been dropped from a nearby bridge. "The concrete was of such size that we do not believe that it could have been carried there by children," the spokesman said.

The accident happened around 12.30pm at a spot known as Cranes Foot crossing between Derby Road and Trimley stations, Suffolk. The Anglia Railways train was travelling at only 20mph, having recently left a station.

A Railtrack spokesman, Peter Maynard, said: "What goes on in the minds of vandals, I just don't know."

On Sunday, a man was killed after his car was struck by a train on a level crossing. The man, believed to be in his twenties, was trapped in his Honda Concerto at the Traeth Mawr crossing, Porthmadog, in north Wales, when the accident happened at 10.15am.

A North Wales Fire Brigade spokesman said that firefighters using specialist hydraulic cutting equipment had taken more than an hour to free the man from his car but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

The two-carriage Central Trains class 156 sprinter with 20 passengers was travelling from Pwllheli to Machynlleth. it collided with the car shortly after pulling out of Porthmadog railway station.