LIVES were put at risk when a train struck a gas cylinder left on a railway line by vandals.

Community leaders and British Transport Police have spoken about the potential consequences to the early-morning train which hit a gas cylinder and other items left on the track at Shotton Low Level Station.

Although nobody on the Arriva Trains Wales service was hurt the incident caused serious damage to the train and highlighted the dangers to rail crews and passengers when people carry out mindless acts of vandalism.

Shotton East councillor Doreen Mackie has slammed the people responsible and says it could have had fatal consequences.

“This is just mindless vandalism,” said Cllr Mackie.“I think the people responsible have not thought about what could have happened.

“Lives could have been put at risk if the train had derailed. It is just so unnecessary.
“When you get on a train you put your trust in others that you will be safe and it is awful that people want to cause this trouble.”

Cllr Mackie said she had not encountered many previous problems with railway vandalism in Shotton and was not aware of instances where youngsters had caused trouble during the Easter holidays.

The incident occurred early on Saturday, April 16, and was reported to British Transport Police at 4.15am.

“The impact severely damaged the underside of the train, forcing the driver to stop,” said Inspector Dai Davies.

“Officers searched the area and discovered that the debris placed on the track included a gas cylinder which appears to have caused most of the damage. After hitting the obstruction, the train was brought to a standstill and had to be taken out of service causing delays and disruption to the rail network.”

Insp Davies said the incident was being treated as “very serious” by British Transport Police.

He added: “We are urging anyone who was in or around the area late on Friday, April 15 into the early hours of Saturday, April 16 to contact us if they saw anything suspicious, or if they have any information that could help us with our inquiries.”

Anyone with information on this incident should contact BTP on freefone 0800 405040 quoting reference B8/WA of 26/04/2011 or call Crimestoppers in confidence on 0800 555111.

- The Shotton incident came on the same weekend as a concrete post and fence were deliberately left on a railway line near Wrexham.

Although the obstructions were quickly noticed and removed by officers, BTP Sgt Karl Anderson said the incident could have had “catastrophic” consequences and warned of the dangers of youngsters playing on or near railway lines.

“The railway is an inherently dangerous environment, with high speed trains and electric currents, and it should never be treated as a playground or somewhere to hang about,” he said.

“Any children playing on or near the railway will be putting themselves in great danger.

“My message to youngsters is simple – stay safe and stay out of trouble.”