Two cows hit by train in Chorley after vandals remove gate
Police have condemned a "mindless act of vandalism" that led to two cows dying on a Lancashire railway line.
The animals were struck by a train after wandering onto the track when a gate was removed near Chorley.
PC Richard King, of British Transport Police, said the incident "caused distress for all involved".
Network Rail's Stuart Middleton stressed the train could have derailed at the Weaver's Brow site, leading to "more serious consequences".
Police believe the crossing gate was deliberately taken off its hinges and removed on Monday evening.
PC King said that as a result of the vandalism, "cows in a nearby farm were able to walk straight on to the line".
"Unfortunately, an oncoming train struck two, killing them," he said.
"This was a mindless act of vandalism that caused distress for all involved from the driver and passengers on board the train to the rail staff who work on the track afterwards."
Mr Middleton said it was "unbelievable that anyone would deliberately remove one of these gates just for fun".
"Given the size and weight of the gate, I am sure it would have taken several people to lift it from its hinges," he said.
"I am sorry that animals were killed but it could have had much more serious consequences had the train derailed."
A spokeswoman for the RSPCA added that the cows had suffered a "needlessly terrible, traumatic death".