Craven Arms train fire: Rail services resume after 'stolen' digger crash

Rail services have resumed south of Shrewsbury after a train struck a digger and caught fire on Sunday night.

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

Police believe the digger was stolen and abandoned on the railway line near Craven Arms when it was hit by a train carrying around 60 passengers at around 10.30pm.

The crash caused fuel to leak from the train and catch fire, and led to the closure of the Marches Line between Shrewsbury and Hereford and the Heart of Wales Line from Shrewsbury to Llanwrtyd.

The Environment Agency was also called in to ensure fuel did not enter the nearby River Onny.

Photo: The Environment Agency

Transport for Wales announced on Tuesday morning that the train line had both reopened and trains were now operating normally along both routes.

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

Only one passenger sustained a minor ankle injury in Sunday's crash, but British Transport Police said the collision could have led to serious injuries or even deaths.

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.”

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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