fotografie peter Hilz (C)

Rail disaster narrowly averted

Three schoolchildren aged 12 and 13 switched railway points outside Sas van Gent yesterday afternoon.  The children's intervention could have heralded catastrophe on the line between Sas van Gent (Netherlands) and the Belgian border.

Fortunately a train driver who was travelling in the opposite direction noticed three bikes standing beside the railway track.  He thought this was suspicious and alerted Zeeland police.  The Dutch police attended the scene and found three children on the line.  The children readily admitted having switched the points.

Zeeland police say their intervention could have derailed any train travelling from Belgium.  The children will have to give an account of their actions to the Dutch youth service that deals with delinquency.  The rail track company hopes to recoup the cost of any damage.