Updated 04/02/09: A CAR driver had a miraculous escape when his vehicle smashed into a 100-tonne train at a level crossing.

The accident happened at 1.15pm yesterday at the crossing in Malton Road, West Knapton, and involved the 10.22am TransPennine Express service from Liverpool to Scarborough, which has a stop at York and travels at up to 75mph along the line.

Police were yesterday treating the area of the crash as a crime scene.

The driver of the Vauxhall Astra, a 20-year-old Scarborough man, told emergency services he had been dazzled by the sun and had driven into the back of the last of three carriages. It appears he had also hit one of the level crossing’s barriers. He was taken to Scarborough Hospital with minor injuries and was later discharged.

Collision investigation officers from North Yorkshire Police were assisting officers from British Transport Police last night in investigating how the smash had happened. But a member of the public at the scene of the accident, who did not want to be named, said the motorist, along with the 25 train passengers, had had a very lucky escape.

He said: “It’s a miracle he wasn’t hurt. The front of the car was really smashed up.”

A spokesman for TransPennine Express said the trains are designed to stay on the tracks if hit by an object.

He said: “Trains are designed to stay upright in the event of some sort of collision, but trains weigh substantially more than a car so the likelihood of a derailment is probably not that great. But if it was derailed, with the way it is built, it has a low centre of gravity so it should stay predominantly upright on a straight stretch of line. But from what I’ve heard, the car struck the train a glancing blow.”

The train stopped about 400 metres after the level crossing and was checked by engineers from Network Rail. There were also officers from British Transport Police and a police photographer at the scene.

A 50-metre stretch of the road leading up to the level crossing was cordoned off and diversions for motorists were in place.

At 3.45pm, the passengers were transferred to a coach and Network Rail allowed the train to continue on to Scarborough.

A spokeswoman for the company said it did not appear the track had been damaged, but there was damage to one of the level crossing barriers.

She said these would be fixed as soon as British Transport Police scenes of crime officers had finished their investigation.

A spokesman for TransPennine Express said trains were running as normal to Malton and then a coach shuttle service was taking passengers the final leg of the journey to the East Coast and vice versa.

The line re-opened at 5.20pm.