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Quick-thinking train driver saved lives of passengers

The train would have ploughed into a tractor at speed if he had not reacted.

Near miss: Tractor driver ignored rules (file pic).
Near miss: Tractor driver ignored rules (file pic). SWNS

A quick-thinking train driver saved the lives of dozens of passengers after spotting a tractor on the line.

The train would have ploughed into the farm vehicle at speed if Andrew Gardner had not hit the emergency brake.

Farm worker Zbigniew Wasik admitted endangering the lives of the people on board the Perth to Inverness train on October 18 last year.

Perth Sheriff Court was told Wasik had been given specific instructions before crossing the line at Dalnaspidal, near Pitlochry.

He ignored the rules and drove across without checking the line was clear after being waved over by his supervisor.

'Although it was a momentary lapse, it was a significant one, and it was more by luck than judgment that disaster did not follow.'
Sheriff William Wood

Sheriff William Wood said: "It is accepted that at the critical time you were signalled to cross by your supervisor and, without thinking about it any further, that is what you did.

"At that stage the train driver observed you and without his quick reactions a disaster would have occurred, with tragic consequences for you and the people on the train.

"Although it was a momentary lapse, it was a significant one and it was more by luck than judgment that disaster did not follow."

He added: "You were not the only person at fault but you were the person driving the tractor at the material time.

"Everyone involved in this incident has been very fortunate."

Wasik, of Dunkeld Road, Perth, admitted culpably and recklessly driving a tractor across an open level crossing and into the path of an oncoming train.

He admitted forcing the train driver to apply the emergency brakes and endangering all those involved.

The court was told it was the closest near miss Mr Gardner had experienced in more than 30 years as a train driver.

Wasik was ordered to carry out 160 hours' unpaid work.

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