Heroes of Roudham train collision hailed for their courage

The train crash at Roudham level crossing near Thetford.

The train crash at Roudham level crossing near Thetford. - Credit: Archant

Two of the heroes of a high-speed crash involving a train and tractor on a level crossing can be revealed by the EDP today.

A Norwich to Cambridge train, travelling at 84mph, smashed into a trailer and tractor unit at Roudham, Norfolk, leaving one person seriously injured and seven with less serious injuries.

Today, the driver and conductor of the train, operated by Abellio Greater Anglia, were hailed for their courage and selflessness before the impact and immediately afterwards.

As the driver approached the Thetford area, on April 10, he saw the obstruction ahead of him and had just seconds to act. After applying the brakes and alerting signallers to the impending accident, he ran back from the cab and shouted a warning to passengers to prepare for impact.

After the crash, in which he sustained a serious cut to his hand, his colleague, the conductor, pitched in to help some of the 135 passengers – who many believe escaped what could have been a catastrophic incident.

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Meanwhile, it has emerged that the tractor driver had been given permission to cross by a signaller. The conversation between the pair, which is recorded, is the focus of the ongoing investigation.

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) has been looking into how the Class 170 unit, with more passengers than usual because of engineering work on the Norwich to London line, came to grief at the Hockham Road level crossing at around 12.30pm on April 10.

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The tractor driver suffered serious injuries and remains in hospital in a stable condition.

A statement from the RAIB, released yesterday, reveals the tractor had been granted permission to cross the tracks, before the train hit the vehicle.

The crossing system, which is on a private road, depends on vehicle users opening and closing the gates themselves, after using a telephone to get permission from a signaller at Cambridge.

The collision saw a trailer separate from the tractor and strike the side of the train several times, breaking windows and puncturing the outer body of the train, before coming to rest at the side of the railway line, next to the tractor.

The driving cab of the train was severely deformed by the impact, and the driver's door broke away.

According to the statement, the crossing had been provided with red and green lights in 2012, which informed users whether it was safe to cross or not.

That equipment had been intentionally decommissioned at the time of the incident.

The RAIB will look at factors which may have influenced the actions of the people involved, the method of authorising vehicles to use the crossing, the history of the crossing equipment, the performance of the train during the collision, and any underlying management factors.

It states: 'Our investigation is independent of any investigation by the railway industry, the Office of Road and Rail (ORR) and the British Transport Police.'

Jamie Burles, managing director of Abellio Greater Anglia, has visited his colleagues and praised them for the outstanding way they conducted themselves before and after the crash which saw a textbook response from the region's emergency services.

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