Two men hunted after train hits stolen pick-up at 75mph

Emergency services at the scene last night. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Emergency services at the scene last night. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Police are hunting two men after a stolen pick-up truck abandoned on a railway line was hit by a train carrying 141 passengers on Wednesday.

The 4.39pm service from Edinburgh to Milngavie struck the Toyota Hilux pick-up at 75mph at around 5.05pm near Uphall station in West Lothian leaving commuters terrified the train was going to derail.

“It’s a miracle the train didn’t derail and no one was hurt. It could have been a major disaster.” Karen Orman

Miraculously, only one female passenger suffered only minor grazing to her arm. On impact, a window in the first carriage shattered and the train swayed from side to side as passengers screamed amidst panic. The male driver of the train was also uninjured but was left shocked.

The pick-up was extensively damaged and thankfully the train remained upright and did not derail.

British Transport Police (BTP) say the red truck was stolen from a nearby garage and was seen to be driven erratically. It is thought to have gone out of control and rolled down the embankment before resting on its roof on the line.

BTP officers are now searching for two men, believed to be in their late teens to late twenties in connection with the incident and the theft.

Superintendent Kyle Gordon, head of operations for BTP in Scotland, said: “I cannot stress enough the seriousness of the incident and the potential circumstances of the two men’s actions do not bear thinking about.

“Thankfully no one was seriously injured. However, many people were inconvenienced and the rail network was disrupted for several hours. Anyone who witnessed the incident or who recognises the two men from the descriptions is urged to get in touch.”

Passengers were stuck on the train for three hours before another one arrived to take them to other stations. Train services were cancelled for the rest of the night.

The vehicle was eventually removed from the railway line at around 2.30am and services returned to normal, with some disruption this morning.

Passenger Karen Orman (38), a PA who works in Edinburgh, was on the first carriage which hit the truck when she was travelling home to Broxburn.

She said: “There was a big bang and one of the windows shattered and then the train started swaying from side to side. Everyone was screaming and I thought the train was going to come off the tracks. I really thought I was a goner.

“I had a seat but my friend was standing next to me because the train was packed and we both just grabbed on to each other.

“It’s a miracle the train didn’t derail and no one was hurt. It could have been a major disaster.”

She added: “I have to say, the Scotrail staff, the conductor and emergency services were brilliant considering what had happened.”

A spokeswoman for Scotrail said: “We arranged buses to call at Bathgate station to transport customers whose trains were cancelled.”

Forensic enquiries at the scene are ongoing and officers are carrying out door-to-door enquiries. CCTV footage is also being trawled in an attempt to identify the two men responsible.

One of the men, seen fleeing from the pick-up truck after it came to a stop at the location – known locally as the Roman Camp – is described as being aged between 18 and 27, about 5ft 9in, slim/medium build with short dark brown hair, wearing a dark top and jeans.

The other man is described as aged 18 to 20, 5ft 6in to 5ft 9in in height, of slim build, wearing a light grey hooded top or zipper and was in possession of a black phone.

Anyone who was in the area at the time and who may have information which can help identify the two men is asked to contact BTP as a matter of urgency.

British Transport Police can be contacted on 0800 40 50 40 or by texting 61016. Information can be given anonymously to the independent charity, Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.