A TAXI driver who drove into the Whitland to Pembroke Dock train has today (Tuesday) escaped a driving ban and instead received a hefty fine.

Brian George Mazey, aged 45, misjudged the speed of the train and his Vauxhall hit the rear wheels of the two-carriage train, which had 17 passengers on board.

Mazey, of Cwm Gwennol, Saunsdersfoot, had denied dangerous driving on April 30 last year but admitted a lesser charge of careless driving.

Tom Scapens, prosecuting, told Swansea crown court the plea was acceptable because the driver of the train was now living in Portugal and the only other eye witness was a 12 year-old boy.

Mazey had six penalty points added to his licence and was fined £500 and ordered to pay £250 in prosecution costs plus a court surcharge.

Mr Scapens said the crossing at Beavers Hill near Saundersfoot was across a single track country lane and was controlled by warning lights but not barriers.

Driver Mark Williows correctly stopped the 20.37 service and sounded the train's horn before proceeding.

He had seen the headlights of Mazey's approaching car but assumed it would stop.

He then felt a jolt and stopped to see Mazey trying to reverse away from the train.

Mr Scapens said no-one was injured and the train was undamaged. But some passengers began to worry about the delay and a bus was laid on to take them to their destinations.

In all, he said, the incident cost the train company £720 and disrupted services for two days.

Mr Scapens said that when first questioned by police Mazey maintained that train had driven into his car but it was clear that the collision had been at the back of the train.

The court heard that Mazey had been driving for 28 years without any penalty points and could not explain how the accident happened.

Judge Peter Heywood said the only explanation was that Mazey thought the train would have passed before he did but misjudged how slowly it was going.

"You should have seen it, given the size of it," said Judge Heywood. "You thought you would pass behind it but misjudged the speed."