Shocking CCTV footage of a train smashing into a car has been released by police as a warning to members of the public.
A passenger train with 40 people on board struck the Vauxhall Insignia that had been abandoned on the line on July 20 last year.
The train driver spotted the car while travelling at 100mph but luckily managed to slow to 70mph before striking the car, that had been beached on the track by Derby man, Ashley Mather.
The train narrowly avoided de-railing but more than £650,000 in damage and costs were caused by the incident.
Mather 36 of Pearl Close, Oakwood, Derby, was jailed for yesterday at Stafford Crown Court for five-and-a-half-years after pleading guilty to obstructing the railway.
The court heard how Mather had driven his car onto the railway line at a crossing and travelled a further 220 metres down the track before abandoning his car straddling the rails and running off.
A short while later a passenger service travelling between Derby and Burton on Trent hit it.
Detective Sergeant Shanie Erwin of British Transport Police (BTP) said: “When officers and other emergency service colleagues arrived at the scene the area was searched and Mather was discovered hiding in a bush nearby.
“Mather claimed to have had an episode of memory loss as a result of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, however he was fully assessed by an independent mental health team and deemed fit to be interviewed by Police and prosecuted by the Crown Prosecution Service.
“I cannot emphasise the seriousness of his actions. The train could have easily derailed after striking his vehicle at such a speed, and everyone on board could have been seriously injured or killed.
“The sentence handed down to Mr Mather today sends a strong message that obstructing the railway, and risking peoples lives in this way is taken extremely seriously by the courts and BTP.”
Emrys Warriner, head of route safety health and environment, said: “This is a frightening episode which demonstrates exactly how dangerous level crossing misuse could be.
"That there were no serious injuries is fortunate in the extreme and the outcome of this reckless act could have been entirely different.
"The cost of this incident to the railway is also significant and I am pleased that the court has treated this incident with such severity.”