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Lorry driver saw tree fall onto railway track moments before train crashed into it at 70mph

Damage to the front of the train that hit a train just outside Inverurie.Damage to the front of the train that hit a train just outside Inverurie.

A train smashed into a tree at 70mph yesterday, leaving passengers stranded for more than two hours. High winds caused the tree to fall onto the Aberdeen to Inverness rail line, near Inverurie at about 10.20am. A lorry driver saw the 3ft wide tree tumble onto the track just minutes before the train came round the corner and sounded the alarm – but there was not enough time to alert the driver.

None of the 60 passengers were injured as a result, but witnesses at the scene described it as a “near miss” and claimed the train could have “quite easily derailed”. Steve King, managing director at Advantec Aberdeen Ltd, was alerted by the lorry driver and phoned for help. He said: “The lorry driver was in our yard making a delivery and he told me that he had just seen the tree fall onto the track.

I rang 999 straight away, but within five minutes we heard the bang – a loud, loud bang.” Advantec administrator Claire Grant also heard the bang from her ground floor office and looked out of the window to see “clouds of dust” covering the car park. The train came to a stop approximately 500 yards from where the tree had fallen, leaving a trail of oil and fluid in its path.

The front windscreen was also smashed. ScotRail staff headed straight to the scene, while first aiders from Advantec also raced from their base in Kirkwood Commercial Park Industrial Estate to see if they could help. However, the passengers were uninjured and were kept on the train – which was eventually towed to Aberdeen, arriving back at about 1pm.

Mr King added: “We could see that everyone looked all right and were just wondering what had happened.” “After speaking to the ScotRail guys it was quickly established it is a blind bend and they reckon it was travelling at 70mph. The driver wouldn’t have seen it at all – it could have been much, much worse and could have quite easily derailed.

“It was some size of a tree – at least a metre in diameter.” Emergency services did not attend the incident, which resulted in trains between Aberdeen and Inverness being cancelled until 2pm. Last night, a spokesman for ScotRail Alliance said: “The 10.13am Aberdeen to Inverness service struck a tree between Dyce and Inverurie.

“This caused some damage to the front of the train, including a smashed windscreen and engine failure. No one has been hurt as a result. “We apologise to anyone delayed by this incident, and would remind those delayed by 30 minutes or more to retain their tickets to claim a refund through our delay repay scheme.”

Replacement buses were put in place to take disrupted passengers from Dyce to Inverurie and normal service resumed at 2pm.

The damaged train was recovered and taken to Aberdeen.

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