Passenger on King’s Lynn to London train tells of moment it collided with tractor

Passengers had to wait four hours for power cables to be made safe after crash

A passenger on the train which collided with a tractor on Sunday morning near King's Lynn has told how travellers were kept on-board for four hours.

David Halliwell said he always made sure he was in the fourth and final carriage when he used the service to get to work in Cambridge.

'I always get into the back carriage thinking that if there's going to be anything go wrong, the last carriage has to be the safest place. I'm glad I did,' he said.

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Mr Halliwell, 37, was just minutes into the journey when he said the train braked, there was an impact and clouds of dust and debris blew past the window of his carriage.

'Everyone felt it, there was dust flying by and we knew there had been an impact. Some people began to panic a bit and we were all shocked,' he said.

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Mr Halliwell, of, Lynn, was going to work in Cambridge where he is a chef when the First Capital Connect train he was on collided with a tractor at a crossing just outside Lynn at Saddlebow.

'Everyone was very shocked - it all went dark for a few seconds. They kept us on the train for four hours because they were repairing the power lines and wouldn't let us off. Some people were panicking a bit because they wanted to get off the train,' he said.

It was after 2pm that he and the other 40 passengers were finally allowed off the train and they walked along the tracks to a field and were then collected by 4x4 vehicles used by the fire service.

'The ticket inspector was talking to us and he kept saying 'not long now', but it was four hours before we could get off - it was a long time,' said Mr Halliwell.

The crossing does not have a barrier and is a type used in agricultural areas where farmers have to access their land.

The tractor driver was not believed to be injured in the crash which happened minutes after the 10.10am pulled out of Lynn station heading to London's Kings Cross via Cambridge.

All trains between Lynn and Downham Market remain cancelled until late yesterday after overhead power lines were brought down by the crash.

'The collision has caused extensive damage to our train and the overhead power lines,' said a spokesman for First Capital Connect.

Engineers worked to remove the tractor parts from under the train and clear the line.

Network Rail restored the overhead power lines, a project which included major structural work to restore the service.

'This train now has to undergo major repairs and will be out of service for some time. It joins another one of our Class 365 trains being repaired following a separate camper van collision in Littleport in the summer.

'On top of this, a number of trains were unable to move from King's Lynn while the line was blocked. This means that customers may be faced with different trains for their journey or less carriages,' added the spokesman.

Emergency services were quickly on the scene of the accident, which was close to the busy A47 Southern bypass and across the fields from the Norfolk Arena.

The tractor driver - reported to be a 29-year-old man - was treated at the scene but was understood to have escaped serious injury.

The track was due to be fully re-opened around 4pm yesterday.

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