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Saturday, 01 November 2014

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Enthusiasts watch in horror as train kills sheep near Carlisle

A rail enthusiast has spoken of his horror as he watched a sheep being killed as it ran in front of an engine.

Train kills sheep photo

Jan Fialkowski, 64, of Cleator Moor witnessed the event as he gathered with other steam engine fans at Armathwaite near Carlisle to watch the Fellsman make its way along the Settle to Carlisle line.

As the train approached the village station, onlookers noticed that a ewe and lamb were startled by the sound of the train approaching, and walked onto the track. Instead of then running off the track, however, the lamb ran further along it, with its mother chasing behind.

She managed to nudge her offspring off the track – only to be hit by the train herself, despite the driver’s efforts to stop in time.

More than 10 shocked rail enthusiasts witnessed what happened, including Mr Fialkowski.

“What should have been a beautiful day out with glorious photos to look at turned into a horror story,” he said.

All the enthusiasts by the track were shouting at the animals in the hope that they would get off the line. It was too dangerous for them to venture onto the track themselves.

Mr Fialkowski guessed that the train was travelling at around 60 miles per hour when it hit the ewe.

The scene afterwards was the most difficult for him to watch.

“At this point the lamb came back to its mother and wailed its head off,” he said.

Mr Fialkowski – a retired Sellafield shift manager – said it was important that livestock was kept securely away from railway lines.

Network Rail, which operates Britain’s railway tracks, was contacted shortly after the event.

A spokesman said: “In a situation like this we would remove any livestock and check the line is clear, and safe for trains to continue running.

“Livestock incursion can be an issue for the network and can cause delay because typically, when an incident is reported, we will send a team to the site and check the line is clear before allowing trains to pass through the area.”

He added that the agency worked with landowners to try to make sure fencing was secure by the side of track. “It’s obviously not in our, or a farmer’s interests, to have a situation where livestock can access the railway,” he added.

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