Sat nav blunder leaves car on track

PUBLISHED: 09:17 17 January 2008 | UPDATED: 19:26 05 July 2010

A driver caused chaos on the Lowestoft to Norwich railway line after he misunderstood his car's sat nav system and drove onto the track as a train approached.

A driver caused chaos on the Lowestoft to Norwich railway line after he misunderstood his car's sat nav system and drove onto the track as a train approached.

The foreign student was trying to get to road which was an immediate right turn after the level crossing at Oulton Broad North station, but ended up stranded on the rail track.

Bemused passers-by and motorists watched on in astonishment as the driver, who was delivering a takeaway, and his passenger tried to push the Daewoo Matiz out of the way.

But their efforts were in vain and the police were called as the signalman told the driver of the Norwich-bound train to stop.

Train services were halted for more than an hour from about 8.40pm on Tuesday evening before a recovery vehicle towed the car away. Police last night confirmed the driver could face prosecution.

Sgt Andrew Cook, of the British Transport Police, said the man, aged in his mid-20s, had been trying to get to Commodore Road.

“As he approached the crossing, the sat nav told him to turn right, but he turned 10 yards too early,” added Sgt Cook. “At the same time the signalman was about to press the button on the barriers for an approaching train. He had to get the train to stop to prevent an accident.

“The driver is a foreign student at Lowestoft College, who has only just recently arrived in this country. His actions did cause substantial delays to the trains that evening.”

Sgt Cook said officers were considering bringing charges of obstructing a train without intent and driving without due care and attention.

Network Rail spokesman Kate Snowden said: “Thankfully, this is a quiet route so we were able to stop oncoming trains in time. If it had been the mainline he may not have been so lucky.

“Sat nav is generally really useful, but drivers need to make sure that they aren't blindly following it and need to keep a sensible eye on the road to make sure things like this don't happen. He's not only putting himself at risk, but others travelling and working on the railway.”

Phil Chapman captured the dramatic incident on his camera as he waited for a train from Oulton Broad North to Norwich.

He said: “The car dropped down a steep step and could not be driven back up.”

Paul Symonds, who was outside the George Borrow pub, said: “The men got straight out of the car, called the police and then tried pushing the car.

“The approaching train was about half a mile away and slammed its breaks on. The men were just standing there with their heads down.”

It is not the first time drivers using sat nav systems have taken dangerous wrong turns. Last year a 20-year-old student's car was wrecked when her car was hit on a South Wales train line. She survived, but blamed the sat nav system for her accident.

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