A train driver caused a crash while he was reading messages on his mobile phone.
Mark Hubble was distracted by a picture message when he smashed the train, which was carrying passengers, into buffers, causing it to derail before it was struck by a passing passenger locomotive.
Miraculously no one was injured in the crash at Bromsgrove railway station in Worcestershire, reports Birmingham Live.
But a judge said it was lucky there wasn’t a “catastrophic outcome” on March 23, 2020 – the day the first coronavirus lockdown was announced.
Hubble was sending and receiving messages on his phone while driving the train, the court heard. After entering the siding at Bromsgrove station, he lost concentration due to reading a picture message on his mobile phone and failed to control his speed.
He was yesterday sentenced to eight months in prison – suspended for 18 months – after being convicted of breaching Section 7a of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
Judge Cartwright said: “Luckily there were only six people on board – the guard, driver and four passengers. But for the lockdown, the train might otherwise have been carrying a good number of others.
“Alan Jones, the driver of the other train, was immediately covered in glass, his driver’s door torn open. If the locomotive had derailed a little further over, this would have been a head-on collision and he would have been killed.”
The driver failed to control the locomotive’s speed and it careered into the buffers, derailed and partially obstructed the adjacent main line. A passing CrossCountry passenger train then struck Hubble’s locomotive.
There was extensive damage to both the locomotive and the passenger train.
Speaking after sentencing, Ian Prosser, Chief Inspector of Railways, said: “We are pleased with the outcome of this case.
“It sends a clear message to drivers about their responsibilities. This incident could have resulted in serious injuries and fatalities.”
The train driver was sentenced following a prosecution brought by the Office of Rail and Road.