Joyriders blamed for Uphall train crash

Investigations at the scene.   Picture:  Ondrej Muskat

Investigations at the scene. Picture: Ondrej Muskat

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TWO young joyriders caused a crash which saw a packed commuter train plough into a pick-up truck on a railway line, it has emerged.

Police are hunting the pair who stole the vehicle minutes before crashing it on to the line at Uphall in West Lothian.

Emergency services and rescue teams attend the scene. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Emergency services and rescue teams attend the scene. Picture: Ian Rutherford

More than 140 passengers were on Wednesday’s 4.39pm ScotRail service from Edinburgh to Milngavie when it struck the Toyota Hilux at 75mph, close to the station, at about 5pm.

Commuters said they had “swung from side to side” and heard a loud bang as a carriage window shattered when they struck the abandoned vehicle.

It is understood the pick-up had been stolen from a local garage and it was reported to have been driven erratically along the road, across from railway line, before it rolled down the embankment.

The pair were seen fleeing after it landed on its roof on the railway track.

The incident is believed to have occurred near Uphall Station. Picture: TSPL

The incident is believed to have occurred near Uphall Station. Picture: TSPL

Today, a rail expert said the commuters involved in the collision had “had a lucky escape” and the outcome could have been “much worse”, if the train had been travelling at a higher speed.

British Transport Police (BTP) said only one passenger had suffered a minor injury, while the remainder escaped unscathed.

Lewis Lesley, a retired professor of transport engineering, said: “The people on this train had a lucky escape – it could easily have derailed.”

He described the force of a train hitting an obstacle on the track as similar to “a bullet crushing an apple”.

“There’s a lot of energy in the train, and when it hits an object with force, the energy has got to go somewhere” he said.

“One of the ways the energy can go is derailing it from its current path. If this train had been travelling faster, the outcome would have been much worse.”

Forensic inquiries are now ongoing at the scene and CCTV footage is being trawled in an attempt to identify the two men.

One of them is described as being aged between 18 and 27, about 5ft 9in tall, with a slim to medium build and short brown hair.

The other is described as being aged around 18, between 5ft 6in and 5ft 9in in height, and with a slim build.

He was wearing a light grey hooded top or zipper and was in possession of a black phone at the time of the incident.

Superintendent Kyle Gordon, head of operations for BTP in Scotland, said: “I cannot stress enough the seriousness of the incident and the potential circumstances of the two men’s actions do not bear thinking about.

“Thankfully no-one was seriously injured. However, many people were inconvenienced and the rail network was disrupted for several hours.”

West Lothian Council’s community services leader, George Paul, said: “This incident could have had extremely serious consequences and ended in tragedy. It is vital that those responsible are caught.”