Van smashes through level crossing as train approaches in Galway

Other motorists express shock at incident on the Ennis-to-Galway road north of Gort

Gardaí in Galway are searching for the driver of a white van that smashed through the closed gates of a level crossing. Photograph: Press 22

Gardaí in Galway are searching for the driver of a white van that smashed through the closed gates of a level crossing. Photograph: Press 22

 

Gardaí­ in Galway are searching for the driver of a white van that smashed through the closed gates of a level crossing as a passenger train was approaching.

The incident happened at about 7.30pm on Monday at the Kiltartan crossing on the N18 Ennis-to-Galway road north of Gort.

The train driver was alerted to the incident by an automated system and was able to make a safe stop several hundred metres from the crossing.

Traffic had been stopped at the crossing as the 6pm Limerick-to-Galway train, which had just left Gort, was approaching.

Warning lights and an alarm were activated at the unmanned crossing ahead of the train’s arrival. However, a white van ploughed straight through the barriers and drove off.

Both sides of the barrier were left mangled on the road as drivers watched in horror.

One driver said: “I was stopped about four cars back. The barriers were down and a white van just drove straight through. I couldn’t believe it as I watched the van drive off towards Galway. I ran up to the crossing and looked down the track and I could see the lights of the train coming but it stopped about a quarter of a mile away.”

Train stopped

It’s understood that an automated system alerted the driver to the barriers being damaged and the train stopped.

“The barrier was mangled. A few people called the guards but we didn’t know what else to do. There was a couple heading to Shannon Airport so a few of us bent the barrier back so they could get through,” the eyewitness said.

He added: “One poor woman decided to follow other cars up a side road that goes around the crossing. She took the bend too sharply and damaged her car. People didn’t know what to do and were afraid to cross the track, I think. We just stayed where we were until the guards arrived.”

Motorists were held up for over an hour, and the train, which had stopped farther down the line, was delayed.

An Iarnród Éireann spokeswoman confirmed: “The barriers were down for the train and a van drove through them. The 6pm Limerick-Galway was delayed by 55 minutes. Both barriers were damaged and had to be replaced.”

The company also confirmed that gardaí­ are investigating the incident.