Craven Arms train fire: Police confirm service hit 'stolen digger' left on line

Police have confirmed that a train caught fire after hitting a mini digger that had been left on the tracks.

The fire broke out on Sunday evening. Photo: Hayley Casewell
The fire broke out on Sunday evening. Photo: Hayley Casewell

The train, which was carrying 60 passengers, crashed into the digger while travelling at around 60mph near Craven Arms at around 10.30pm on Sunday on the Marches Line between Shrewsbury and Hereford.

The collision led to the Marches Line being closed south of Shrewsbury on Monday as investigations and repairs continued.

British Transport Police said the collision with the digger could have led to serious injuries or even deaths. Fortunately only one passenger sustained a minor ankle injury in the incident

Detective Chief Inspector Sam Blackburn, from BTP’s Major, Serious and Organised Crime Unit, said: "It’s believed that a Transport for Wales train travelling at around 60 miles per hour hit a mini digger on the tracks, which caused fuel to leak from the train and a fire to start.

"There was a second mini digger found on the embankment and enquiries throughout the night and this morning have led detectives to believe these had been stolen from a nearby rental yard and discarded."

The officer added: “Any obstruction to the railway is extremely dangerous and can easily result in serious injuries or fatalities, so we are taking this incident very seriously and working hard to hold those responsible to account.

“In this case, the collision with the mini digger resulted in a fuel leak which has then ignited. We are working closely with the Environment Agency to ensure the fuel is contained and any risk to the environment is minimised.”

Specialist officers remain at the scene near Craven Arms station on Monday, while Network Rail said it was working to recover the railway as quickly as possible.

However, it warned it was unlikely services would resume on the line before the end of Monday.

"Passengers are advised to check with Transport for Wales before they travel on Tuesday," a spokesman said.

Transport for Wales said passengers with a valid ticket to travel on Monday between Shrewsbury and Hereford, or between Shrewsbury and Llanwrtyd on the Heart of Wales Line, can travel on Tuesday.

A limited road replacement bus service has been in place between Shrewsbury and Hereford, while customers travelling on Monday have also been allowed to use their tickets on a number of other routes including:

  • Avanti West Coast between Crewe and Birmingham New Street

  • CrossCountry between Cardiff Central and Birmingham New Street

  • Great Western Railway between Cardiff Central and Bristol Parkway

  • West Midlands Railway between Shrewsbury / Crewe and Birmingham New Street

Anyone with information is urged to contact British Transport Police by by texting 61016 or calling 0800 40 50 40 quoting reference 665 of 22/05/22.

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