Exclusive by Alan Quick
OFFICERS from British Transport Police are issuing a warning after road signs were placed on the tracks and then struck by a train.
The incident happened at approximately 6.15am on Monday, May 15 as the 5.50am Great Western Railway Tarka Line service between Exeter St Davids and Barnstaple was passing through Yeoford.
As the train went around a bend, the driver noticed the signs on the tracks but was unable to stop in time.
The train struck the road signs. It is believed the signs were placed on the tracks between 1.30am and 6.15am the same morning.
Officers are now investigating the circumstances of this incident as well as issuing a warning to anyone who is thinking of placing objects on the tracks.
Investigating officer Sergeant David Mannion, said: “I have no idea why someone would think that this was a sensible idea.
“Trains travel at high speeds, and objects such as road signs have the potential to cause significant damage to a train or at worst, derail them.
“It is miraculous that nobody was seriously injured or killed as a result of one person’s careless and utterly stupid behaviour.
“We’re now working hard to identify who this person is and ensure they are brought to justice for their behaviour.
“This is not the first time we have seen road signs being placed on the tracks, and I am convinced that someone knows who is responsible. If you do, then please get in touch.”
There have been repeated occasions when objects have been placed on rail lines in the Crediton area.
Overnight between Tuesday and Wednesday (March 21 and 22) just south of the station at Lapford on the Tarka Line from Exeter to Barnstaple, when a road traffic sign and traffic cone were placed on the railway line.
At around 7.30am, a train travelling at 65 mph struck the sign and came to a halt.
Passengers on board the train had to wait whilst BTP officers and Network Rail attended the scene to make it safe and investigate the obstruction, before engineers could make the damaged train driveable.
Similar incidents have been happening in the area every few months for the past two years and officers believe they are linked.
Other previous incidents in the area were:
• May 6, 2015 – Newton St Cyres - A train hit two signs which were on the track, causing damage and delays
• May 16, 2015 - Yeoford – train struck two signs just near station causing damage and delays
• May 22, 2015 - Newton St Cyres at station – train hit four signs placed just prior to the platform causing damage and delays
• November 18, 2016 - Gunstone Bridge, Yeoford – train struck two signs causing damage and delays
• March 22, 2017 – Lapford just south of station – train struck sign and cones causing train to break down which resulted in extensive delays to rail services.
If you have any information regarding the incident this week at Yeoford, or any of the incidents, please contact the British Transport Police by sending a text to 61016 or telephone 0800 405040, quoting reference 39 of 15/05/2017. Alternatively, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Sergeant Mannion added: “I would particularly like to hear from anyone who may have seen a vehicle or a person acting suspiciously around Yeoford between 11pm and 6am.
“Likewise, if you know where these signs may have been taken from then please get in touch, as your information could help us identify the person responsible.”