Power line chaos

PUBLISHED: 14:28 04 October 2007 | UPDATED: 12:53 04 May 2010

DRIVERS and rush-hour commuters had a lucky escape on Monday night when a lorry hit a 25,000-volt overhead power cable on Ely railway crossing bringing it down onto the track. The cable was left arching across the railway line just yards from a commuter t

DRIVERS and rush-hour commuters had a lucky escape on Monday night when a lorry hit a 25,000-volt overhead power cable on Ely railway crossing bringing it down onto the track.

The cable was left arching across the railway line just yards from a commuter train which was in the station carrying passengers from Cambridge.

They heard a loud bang and a flash and saw the Scania articulated lorry, which was carrying a second lorry, catch fire.

The driver quickly jumped from his cab putting out the blaze, but the vehicle was left badly damaged. Both he and his passenger escaped unhurt.

Commuter, Heather Connolly, 20, of King's Avenue, Ely, had just got off the train when the accident happened.

She said: "I was walking away from the station and I heard a loud bang. I turned round and saw that the lorry had hit the power cable as it was going over the crossing.

"There was a flame on the cab and I saw a cable bounce off the track. The barriers had been brought down onto the track."

The accident happened at around 6.30pm, cutting off overhead electricity and closing down signals.

Network Rail summoned an emergency response team from Witchford to begin making the area safe and engineers worked through the night, eventually restoring power at 4am.

Twelve One Rail trains faced minor delays, a couple of services were terminated at Cambridge and there were cancellations.

First Capital Connect, which runs services between King's Lynn and King's Cross, had to transport some travellers by taxis before laying on four buses at around 9pm.

Heavy traffic was diverted away from the area and the railway crossing closed. But smaller vehicles were still able to pass under the railway bridge.

Now British Transport Police are downloading images from CCTV cameras above the rail crossing to find out exactly how the accident happened.

Pc Paul Gray said: "The lorry driver was spoken to at the scene and our enquiries are ongoing.

"These are high tension wires and it is very unusual for a vehicle to bring them down. They can be brought down by the weather."

A Network Rail spokesman said: "The damage was significant. Signalling equipment had to be renewed and repaired and the line restrung.

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