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Monday, 7 July, 2003, 08:46 GMT 09:46 UK
Three dead in train collision

Three people have been killed after a First Great Western train was involved in a collision with a minibus on a level crossing in Worcestershire.
Seven other people in the minibus were also injured, two seriously.

The incident happened at Pools Crossing, Ryden Lane at Charlton between Pershore and Evesham.

The train - which was travelling from Hereford to London - is still at the scene.

The unmanned crossing is on the main line between Hereford and London Paddington.

It is believed the three dead were in the minibus which was carrying workers, not children.

'Broken window'

A British Transport Police spokesman said: "This is a crossing that is not like a normal crossing as it crosses farmland.

"Drivers of vehicles are supposed to get permission before crossing.

"It is not thought that anyone on the train was hurt."

Mid-Worcestershire MP Peter Luff, who was in the front carriage of the train at the time of the crash, said: "One of the windows broke as a result of the impact.

"There was also a great deal of damage to one of the passenger doors and the front of the train suffered a lot of damage."

He added: "One guy sitting in my carriage with his back to the engine when the window broke was lucky.

"If he had been facing the engine he would have one hell of a mess."

'Burning smell'

BBC journalist Russell Merryman was also on the train.

He described the moment of impact, saying: "There was quite a loud bang and a lot of rattling as debris and metal went under the train.

"People jumped in their seats and we were trying to work out what was going on.

"The train braked quite quickly and there was a very heavy smell of burning as the brakes were operated."

Mr Merryman said the train had not been travelling at full speed at the time of the crash because one of its power units had been damaged.

"The rear unit was not working and every time we stopped at a station the driver was trying to restart it," he said.

Emergency services

A spokesman for Network Rail said: "People are supposed to ring the signaller before crossing.

"The train had been due to stop at Evesham."

A West Mercia Police spokesman said: "The emergency services are responding and dealing with what are believed to be a number of injuries from those aboard the minibus."

Train operator First Great Western confirmed the service involved was the 0703 BST train from Hereford to London Paddington.