Drunk lies under train in Blackburn - and lives
10:30am Friday 16th August 2013 in News
A DRUNKEN man who lay down between train tracks to sleep, miraculously survived when a packed commuter train sped over him.
A shocked driver saw the man getting on to the track as he was heading away from Blackburn station towards Mill Hill, a court heard.
The driver applied the emergency brake, but the Northern Rail train went over him.
Blackburn Magistrates’ Court heard how the driver thought he had killed him but when he looked back, he saw William McNeil get up with blood pouring from his head and run away.
McNeil, 51, of Exeter Street, Blackburn, pleaded guilty to obstructing an engine using the railway – a charge under the Malicious Damage Act of 1861.
He was sent on bail to Preston Crown Court to be sentenced after the magistrates ruled their powers of sentence were insufficient.
Catherine Allan, prosecuting, said the driver saw a man climb over the perimeter fence. He crossed one set of tracks and then laid down between the lines.
Miss Allan said the incident had a significant affect on the driver who thought he had hit someone.
When spoken to by police, McNeil said he was drunk and hadn’t known where he was. He told police that he thought he was going to sleep.
Colleen Dickinson-Jones, defending, said she would be seeking a psychiatric report on McNeil to assist with sentencing.
Yesterday, ASLEF train driver’s union spokesman Andy Botham said such incidents were ‘traumatic’ for drivers.
Mr Botham, a driver who works with national groups to reduce incidents on the tracks said: “Anything like this is very distressing for drivers. It is traumatic and I don’t think people consider the consequences of their actions.
“Trespassing on to the tracks is a dangerous thing to do. It could be extremely traumatic and lead to a career ending incident for the driver.
“There are around 200 incidents on the track each year, so drivers are going out there every day afraid of this happening to them.
“Many drivers have been involved in an incident and then have to travel down the same stretch of track every day.”
Blackburn magistrates also heard there was a significant effect on rail travellers after the incident on Monday June 10.
There were 296 minutes of delays and 20 trains were significantly disrupted.
Network Rail said trespassing on the tracks usually had tragic consequences for those involved.
Chief Superintendent Pete Mason, area commander for the north western area of BTP said: “Anyone who trespasses on or near the railway puts themselves in great danger as well as the lives of staff working on the rail network and passengers travelling on trains.
A Northern Rail spokeswoman said: “Any traumatic incident which impacts on our employees triggers a chain of care, which meticulously ensures they receive the most suitable support in a compassionate and confidential environment.
“This includes thorough training and awareness to prepare our employees before, as well as counselling after an incident has happened.”
Anyone with concerns about specific locations where trespassers are gaining access can report them 24 hours a day on 08457 114141.