Van misses 70mph train by seconds

A motorist narrowly escaped a 70mph collision with a train after driving on to a railway line without checking it was safe.

George Calladine
George Calladine

Mattress salesman George Calladine was on his way to visit a customer in Buttington, near Welshpool, when he drove on to Smith’s Lower Cefn crossing in the village and stopped.

An Arriva Trains Wales passenger train came around the corner and Calladine sped off with only seconds to spare as the train driver hit the emergency brakes and braced himself for a collision.

Calladine, 40, of Sandhill Sconce, Tolney Lane, Newark, Nottinghamshire, was fined £1,000 when he appeared at Welshpool Magistrates’ Court yesterday after admitting a charge of endangering a railway.

Mr David Peate, chairman of the magistrates, told Calladine he had done a “very, very, very stupid thing” and also ordered him to pay £85 costs and a £100 victim surcharge. Mr Peate said: “You have a wife and children and they could have been left without a breadwinner. Think of the poor driver, too – the affect on him must have been considerable.

Serious

He added: “It is important that everyone realises how serious this was. Thank goodness you got out of the way and there was no injury, no collision and no damage. But this was a very serious offence.”

Mr Justin Espie, prosecuting, said the incident happened at about 6pm on March 27 at a crossing on a tight bend just outside Welshpool.

He said: “The train driver said he was coming around a sharp bend at Buttington at 70mph when he saw a silver Mercedes van stationary on the line 200 yards head.

“He slammed on the emergency brakes but knew there was no chance of stopping in time and he prepared himself for a collision.”

Mr Espie said the crossing is unmanned and people wanting to cross have to pick up the phone on the crossing and check with a rail officer on the line whether it is safe to cross.

Mr Paul Inns, for Calladine, said his client failed to pay more attention to the crossing.

He said: “He should have been looking at the crossing for safety measures but he had never encountered a crossing like it before.

“Thankfully there was no collision and no injury caused to any person. It was a neglectful act, not something that was wilfully dangerous.”