Suffolk train crash tanker driver jailed

The driver of a sewage tanker which collided with a train in Suffolk has been jailed for 15 months.

Arvydas Bartasius, 38, of Littleport, Cambridgeshire, admitted endangering safety on the railway.

Ipswich Crown Court heard two train carriages were derailed and 21 people injured in the incident near Sudbury.

Bartasius's tanker collided with a National Express East Anglia train from Sudbury to Marks Tey, in Essex, at an unmanned level crossing on 17 August.

Bartasius was also disqualified from driving for three years.

The court heard that Bartasius, who worked for waste management firm JK Environmental, was carrying sludge from the nearby sewage works.

'Reckless' driving

Judge John Holt was told that a sign warned drivers to stop and use a trackside telephone to call a signalman and check that the line was clear.

The court heard the accident left rail firms with a £1m bill and that Bartasius had "taken a chance", and had been "reckless". One passenger suffered "life threatening" internal injuries in the crash.

Gregory Perrins, representing Bartasius, told the judge that drivers using the crossing did not follow correct procedures because they had concerns about the reliability of a trackside phone-link to signallers.

He said drivers relied on a "visual check" along the line.

A Network Rail spokesperson said: "The tough sentence... sends a strong message that anybody who puts lives at risk by breaking the law at a level crossing can expect to be punished severely.

"Level crossings are there to protect the public from one of the busiest railways in the world and each year misuse results in costly damage and delays as well as tragic injuries and fatalities.

"We urge all users of level crossings to obey the rules and safely cross the railway at all times."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites