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A holiday steam train carrying around 50 passengers has derailed after crashing into a tractor on an unmanned level crossing.
Several people were injured when the miniature locomotive collided with the stationary vehicle on the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway.
One witness said she saw the driver "leap from the train" and take passengers to safety after one of the carriages collapsed on its side.
Paramedics treated five people - including the driver - at the scene for minor injuries as fire crews worked to secure the locomotive's boiler, which was feared to be at risk of exploding. The other passengers were checked over as a precaution.
The engine and the first compartment of the train derailed in the incident on the south Kent coast at about 2.30pm.
"I could hear the whistle going and that is quite unusual so I walked into my garden to see what was going on," witness Sandra Leverick told local news website KentOnline.
"There is an unmanned crossing which I have seen the tractor using regularly, but the tractor wasn't moving and the train was coming.
"They carried on blowing the whistle and then suddenly the front engine part of the train was off the tracks.
"The driver was amazing. I know they are all volunteers and he leapt about four to five feet out of the train and was then helping people from the first carriage which was leaning on to the ground."
An estimated 150,000 tourists use the railway each year and in winter it provides school transport for children travelling between Hythe and New Romney.
The narrow gauge service opened in 1927 as "the world's smallest public railway". It runs over 13 miles along the coast and trains have a maximum speed of about 20mph.
The railway runs over 13 miles along the south Kent coast CREDIT: ALAMY
A Kent Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said: "Firefighters were called to reports of a collision between a steam train and a farm tractor on Hythe Road, Dymchurch, which had caused the locomotive and first carriage to be derailed.
"Crews set about making the scene safe, including securing the locomotive's boiler, which was thought to be at risk of exploding. The remaining 12 carriages were unaffected.
" Five people, including the train driver, were treated at the scene by paramedics for minor injuries.
"The rest of the approximately 50 passengers were checked over as a precaution, but there were no further reported injuries. Kent Police arranged road closures and transport for the stranded passengers."
In 2003, a train driver on the light railway was killed when a steam locomotive and a car crashed on a crossing near Dymchurch. The train had derailed after it struck the vehicle.
Two years later, another train driver - 43-year-old Suzanne Martin - was killed when the locomotive hit a car on a crossing near Dungeness.
This article first appeared on www.telegraph.co.uk
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