'There was a crash and lots of sparks, I thought it was the end of us'... Lisburn 77-year-old relives train smash trauma
A 77-year-old rail passenger has spoken of the terrifying moment his train to Dublin crashed two years ago.
Rodney Dowling from Lisburn said he feared for his life when the early morning express service ploughed into equipment left on the line in February 2016.
Earlier this month a company was fined for leaving an excavator bucket on the track.
Mr Dowling said: "We were cruising along in the dark, about six or seven passengers in the front carriage, doing 60-70mph.
"I was reading my morning paper and all of a sudden there was a crash, lots of sparks and smells of burning.
"The driver was absolutely frantic and the train was jumping up and down and shaking from side to side before coming to a standstill.
"It was quite prolonged, about 60-90 seconds, while the train was skidding up the track.
"I fell on the floor and hurt my chest."
He added: "I thought it was the end of us, to be honest. I'm not an easily scared person, but it was very frightful."
Mr Dowling said a lack of safety lighting on the train added to his distress.
"It was very scary on top of the frightening impact the accident had," he said.
"I couldn't believe it and I was left breathless, hardly able to get up." Mr Dowling needed hospital treatment for his chest injury and a puncture wound, but said it was the psychological stress that had been the hardest thing to deal with.
"It took me about a year before I was able to take the train again," he explained.
"I often had cold sweats, as well as waking up in the night."
Co Down firm Northern Excavators Ltd was fined £9,000 for leaving the excavator bucket on the track.
A court was told the company failed to have adequate safety provisions in place during repair work.
Mr Dowling called the fine "a slap on the wrist".
"People could have been killed in this," he said.
"The only thing that saved it was that the train had six carriages; if it had had three I think that it would have been over on its side."
Translink said internal and external investigations had been carried out: "None identified any shortfall within Translink's emergency plan in dealing with the situation or competency of Translink staff," it added.
"Recommendations were made and actions were taken to address them."