A tractor driver was almost hit by a train traveling at a speed of 73 mph (117 kmph), a report on an accident investigation has found.
The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) said on the morning of 26 November, the tractor driver, a farm worker, was towing his vehicle across the level crossing Thorney Marsh Lane near Castle Cary, Somerset.
The train, a Great Western Railway coach, was travelling to Weymouth from Westbury. The RAIB said the near collision was as a result of miscommunication between the driver and a signaller.
The investigation reported that the train driver sighted the tractor starting to cross, sounded the horn and hit the emergency brake before screeching to a stop 450 metres past the crossing. Both the train driver and the farm worker then made a report to the signaller on the near miss.
According to CCTV images from the train, both the tractor and the trailer got the go ahead when the train was close to 30 metres from the crossing.
The report also the train had left the Castle Cary station four minutes behind time and had not passed the crossing when the tractor driver spoke to the signaller on the phone to find out if the train had been through.
The RAIB investigation said the signaller did not hear the question correctly and simply assumed the train had passed the crossing. He did not verify with the driver either and gave him the green light to cross.
Investigators said the incident underlines why it is important that signallers take charge of conversations during phone calls from users who want to cross but may not be used to communications critical to safety.