Driver dies after truck falls onto railway line in County Durham, England

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The bridge where the accident happened.
Image: Edward Nicholl.

The driver of a propane gas tanker has died after his vehicle fell 70 feet onto a railway line in Country Durham, northern England. The tanker left the road and smashed through a bridge near the small town of Wolsingham and landed on the Weardale Railway below with the driver being thrown from the cab.

The driver, who was in his twenties, had been airlifted to a hospital in Newcastle-upon-Tyne but later died from his injuries.

The Calor Gas tanker was said to be carrying 13,000 litres of liquefied petroleum gas at the time of the accident and nearby homes were evacuated. The fire crews who responded to the incident did not detect any gas leaking from the tanker.

Chris Hockaday, from County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service described the problems they were facing, "There are a few options to consider - one is to see if we can decant the gas out into another vehicle. The problem is that it's gone off next to a bridge so it will be difficult to get any heavy lifting gear into position. We may have to right the vehicle and move it along the tracks somehow, maybe even using a train."

The Weardale Railway operates over a five mile section of restored track between Stanhope and Wolsingham.

In a statement the railway company said, "There will be no further services on Weardale Railway until further notice and we apologise to our passengers for any inconvenience this may cause. We have appointed an incident manager and have alerted the Rail Accident Investigation Board and Her Majesty's Rail Inspectorate. We will not be able to assess the damage until the site of the accident has been declared safe by the fire brigade and the tanker removed from the track."