Level Crossing Crash: Man Dies Near Athelney

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Emergency services at the scene near the Athelney level crossing where a train hit a car

A man was killed when a high-speed train travelling from Devon to London hit a car on a level crossing in Somerset.

The crash happened on the half-barrier crossing near Athelney, between Taunton and Castle Cary shortly after 6.30am..

A Peugot 306 car became trapped under the front of the train and British Transport Police (BTP) said the victim was declared dead at the scene. The 37 passengers and the train driver were uninjured.

The train was travelling at 100mph but despite the impact did not derail and the vehicle was pushed along the tracks for a significant distance.

A spokesman for British Transport Police (BTP) said the train involved was the 0546 Exeter to London Paddington service.

According to the Somerset County Gazette , train passengers were on the disabled train for some five hours before being taken to Taunton.

Passenger Stuart Lambert, from Taunton, told the newspaper: "I felt a slight shudder, that was the first I knew and then we were told a car had skipped the level crossing.

"The train company were awesome. They looked after us really well."

BTP Inspector Jim Atkinson said: "It's too early to speculate why the crash happened but we are carrying out an investigation and will be questioning witnesses and studying CCTV footage to piece together what took place."

Reports suggested that the driver of the car might have tried to beat the oncoming train and driven around the crossing barrier.

A spokesman for Network Rail said: "On the advice of police we are treating this incident as non suspicious. We understand the level-crossing was working as normal and the barrier was down at the time of the crash."

After emergency work had taken place, the train was able to take all passengers to Taunton rail station.

Rail operator First Great Western said there was a limited bus replacement service operating between Taunton and Westbury.

The company tweeted: "Due to this disruption customers travelling between London Paddington and Exeter are advised to travel via Bristol Temple Meads."

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