Wreckage of gas tanker removed after crash onto railway line in County Durham, England

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

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

A gas tanker which crashed onto a preserved railway line in Wolsingham, County Durham in the north of England has been removed. Yesterday, the vehicle fell 70 feet from a road bridge onto the Weardale Railway below and left the driver with serious injuries from which he later died in hospital.

The driver of the Calor Gas vehicle has been named as Peter Williams who was 25 and from the Darlington area.

The tanker was said to be carrying 13,000 litres of liquefied petroleum gas at the time of the accident and nearby homes were evacuated due to fears the gas may leak from the vehicle.

Chris Hockaday, from County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service, described the operation to empty the tanker of gas and remove it from the scene: "The decanting finished at about 10pm and the tanker was then dragged along the track by a tractor, where it was lifted onto another vehicle by the specialist recovery company. It was then moved to a secure site for examination. The authorities left the scene at about midnight. Before decanting the gas, we had to right the vehicle, something which had to be done under great control in an operation which took about two hours."

The Weardale Railway, which operates over a five mile section of restored track between Stanhope and Wolsingham, remains closed, but the company were optimistic about resuming services on the line.

Managing director of the Weardale Railway, Steve Raine, said "The tanker was moved late last night so we haven't yet been able to properly examine the track. However, the damage appears to be quite light, and we're hoping we can get that fixed today." He said that services were most likely to resume this Saturday.

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