Whitland train crash: lorry driver guilty of endangering lives of passengers
2:55pm Monday 1st October 2012 in News
A driver left his lorry on a railway line while he argued with Network Rail staff just seconds before a train from Milford Haven smashed into his vehicle, a court heard today.
Oswald Huw Davies, 49, thought staff working close to the unmanned crossing at Henllan Amgoed, near Whitland, had been "mucking about" by causing the barriers to come down.
But the 9.10am Milford Haven to Manchester Piccadilly train was approaching and as Davies walked towards the workers it crashed into his Scania lorry, injuring several of the 60 passengers aboard.
Today, Davies, of Castell Pigyn, Llanboidy near Whitland, appeared at Swansea crown court for a plea and case management hearing.
He admitted endangering the lives of passengers on December 19 last year by neglecting to follow the instructions on a sign at the crossing, which told lorry drivers to telephone a signal box to ask if a train was due before driving across.
Davies will be sentenced on October 26 and was granted bail meanwhile.
His barrister, Miles Bennett, said Davies had been towing two trailers laden with hay at the time.
He said he had used the crossing many times and was willing to accept that he had not telephoned for information as he was expected to.
But the guilty plea was entered on the basis that the Network Rail vehicles at the scene had obstructed his view and that the lights on the crossing were not correctly aligned.
The basis, he added, was in accordance with the findings of an investigation carried out by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch.
Mr Bennett also said that Davies had not appreciated that the warning sign applied to the class of lorry he was driving at the time.
The barrier, he said, had come down "dramatically quickly" and because of the position of his lorry on the crossing--which had been used in a safety campaign a year earlier--he had not seen the flashing warning lights.
As a result of the investigation, said Mr Bennett, several changes were due to be made by Network Rail and the Office of Rail Regulation, to improve safety at unmanned crossings.