AN INVESTIGATION has begun after a car collided with a steam train on the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway line.

The incident happened at around 11.50am on Thursday, April 5, when a red Chevrolet car was in collision with the no 823 ‘The Countess’ steam train at a level crossing at Cyfronydd Station.

The driver of the car, train crew and 77 passengers on board the 11.15am service from Welshpool to Llanfair Caereinion were not hurt in the incident.

Dyfed-Powys Police attended the scene and train services were cancelled for the rest of the day.

The road near Cyfronydd Station was closed and re-opened three hours later.

Eyewitness Ian Knight said: "I was in the leading coach and on leaving Cyfronydd station, the train was struck on the ungated crossing by a car. I was looking out of the window at this time and saw the whole event.

"The train was moving at walking pace and had sounded the whistle long and hard. I saw a car approaching the crossing and assumed it was going to stop, but for whatever reason it didn't.

"This was driven by an elderly lady and when I spoke to her she said she'd used this road hundreds of times and although she was aware of the crossing had never seen a train there.

"There were no injuries anywhere just the lady rather shaken. Her car, which she'd had serviced the day before, was a write-off I'd say. The only damage to the train I could see was a bent step on the leading carriage.

"The police arrived and took statements and breath tested the drivers, which they passed, and the railway staff organised a coach to take the 70 or so passengers to Llanfair for a free drink then back to Welshpool.

"As is usual in level crossing accidents, the railway was blameless."

A Dyfed-Powys Police spokeswoman said: “We received a report of a collision between a car – a red Chevrolet Spark – and a steam engine at Cyfronydd railway crossing, at 11.50am on Thursday.

“The road was blocked as a result and re-opened at around 3pm. No injuries were reported.”

Andrew Charman, of Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway, said: “Thankfully the incident resulted in no injuries to the driver of the car, the locomotive crew or the 77 passengers and staff on the train.

“However the car was significantly damaged in the collision and damage was also caused to locomotive no 823 ‘Countess.’

“Operations on the line were immediately suspended while authorities were informed.

“Following consultation with the Rail Accident Investigation Branch, the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway was permitted to resume operations. However the rest of the day’s services were cancelled while stock involved in the incident was returned to Llanfair Caereinion.

“The Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway organised road coaches to return the train’s passengers to their station of origin.

“The Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway has begun a full investigation into this incident. Until this investigation is concluded, no further public comment will be made on the incident.”

Rail Accident Investigation Branch spokesman said: “The incident was reported to us and we are currently gathering information. At this stage it is not a formal investigation.”