Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Aircraft smashes into major railway line

At least one person died today when a light aircraft crashed into a major railway line causing travel chaos.

Officers do not know how many people were aboard the single-engined propellor aircraft which crashed in Staffordshire.

The aircraft hit power lines between Rugeley and Stafford above the West Coast Mainline shortly before midday.

The accident has caused disruption on the major rail route between London Euston and Manchester Piccadilly.

West Midlands Ambulance Service said paramedics were at the scene within three minutes but there was nothing they could do to help the occupant.

He said: "Crews found the wreckage of a plane between two railway tracks. It had struck the power lines for the railway.

"Sadly there was nothing that could be done and no-one was taken to hospital. It is not known how many people were aboard the single engine aircraft."

Emergency services were deluged with 999 calls after the crash, in a field off Meadow Lane, Little Haywood.

Rail operators said all services between Rugby and Stafford had been suspended and delays could continue tomorrow.

Virgin Trains services between Euston and north-west England or Glasgow were severely disrupted.

A spokesman said the entire West Coast Mainline would remain shut around Stafford until about 2.30pm while overhead power lines were switched off.

After this Virgin services will be diverted via Birmingham and Wolverhampton, adding up to 40 minutes to journey times.

Virgin passengers can use their tickets to travel with other train operators today, or postpone their journeys until tomorrow, the spokesman said.

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue area commander Phil McFarlane said: "The single propeller aircraft has gone down between two rail tracks. Firefighters are currently using a dry powder extinguisher to ensure all burning is fully extinguished."

A Staffordshire Police spokeswoman said debris from the aircraft had fallen on the tracks and officers were at the scene.

A Network Rail spokesman said: "Emergency services are securing the site and Network Rail awaits clearance before repairs can be made.

"In the meantime services are not running between Rugby and Stafford. Where possible diversionary routes will be used.

"Passengers are advised to check with train operators to see how their services may be affected."

Rail operator London Midland, which runs trains from Birmingham to Liverpool and from Crewe to London's Euston station, suspended services around the affected area.

Replacement buses will run between Crewe and Rugby and between Wolverhampton and Crewe.

A London Midland spokesman said the diversions would remain in place for the rest of the day, and could have a knock-on effect into tomorrow.

An instructor at the Microlight School, based in nearby Lichfield, said he was not aware of any incidents involving aircraft based there.

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