POLICE say they have launched a major investigation after a train hit a digger at 60mph and then caught fire between Hereford and Shrewsbury.

At just after 10.30pm on Sunday evening (May 22), British Transport Police said officers were called to a report of a fire onboard a passenger train near Craven Arms station, in south Shropshire.

Fire crews and West Midlands Ambulance Service also attended.

Police said around 60 passengers were safely evacuated from the train, and the fire was quickly extinguished.

One passenger suffered a minor ankle injury which didn’t require hospital treatment. Nobody else was injured, and the ambulance service said the hazardous area response team, four paramedic officers and one ambulance were sent to the scene.

Detectives currently believe that a Transport for Wales train on the Marches line, between Shrewsbury and Hereford, was travelling at around 60mph.

It then hit a mini digger on the tracks, which caused fuel to leak from the train and a fire started.

There was a second mini digger found on the embankment and enquiries throughout the night and this morning have led detectives to believe these had been stolen from a nearby rental yard and discarded.

Detectives from BTP’s major, serious, and organised crime unit will be leading the probe, and specialist officers remain at the scene conducting enquiries.

Network Rail is working to recover the railway as quickly as possible but it’s unlikely services will resume on the line before the end of the day.

Passengers are told to check with Transport for Wales before they travel tomorrow.

Detective Chief Inspector Sam Blackburn said: “While we are at early stage of our investigation, we are confident this fire was a result of the attempted theft of two mini diggers which then ended up on the tracks.

“Any obstruction to the railway is extremely dangerous and can easily result in serious injuries or fatalities, so we are taking this incident very seriously and working hard to hold those responsible to account.

“In this case, the collision with the mini digger resulted in a fuel leak which has then ignited. We are working closely with the Environment Agency to ensure the fuel is contained and any risk to the environment is minimised.”

“I would like to appeal to anyone who may have information to get in touch with us as soon as possible by texting 61016 or calling 0800 40 50 40 quoting reference 665 of 22/05/22.”