The driver of a train which collided with a tractor in Roudham has been hailed as a “hero” for putting the safety of passengers above his own — despite being badly injured.
Stuart Connell, of Norwich, was driving the Greater Anglia service from Cambridge to Norwich in April 2016 which struck a tractor at the Hockham Road level crossing.
Travelling at 87mph, Mr Connell saw a tractor pull out on the level crossing with just seconds to act. He ducked down and pulled the emergency brake, before warning passengers, keeping his hand firmly down on the warning horn to the point of impact, which resulted in him sustaining a ‘nasty’ hand injury.
Despite being injured and in shock, he walked the train to reassure and look after the 135 passengers.
His bravery has led to him being nominated as Employee of the Year at the Abellio Achievement Awards, set to be held on Thursday night.
Greater Anglia’s Managing Director Jamie Burles said: “He is a professional through and through and understands his responsibility as a driver is to ensure the safety of his passengers.
He is a professional through and through and understands his responsibility as a driver is to ensure the safety of his passengersJamie Burles, Managing Director, Greater Anglia
“His dedication to his role really shone through and he prides himself on doing his job to the best of his ability.
“His professionalism and dedication to the role was further demonstrated when he returned to work at the earliest opportunity, despite his injuries preventing him from driving.”
Passenger, Mr Last, described Stuart as “an absolute hero... going up and down the train making sure people were OK.”
And Alex Youngs added: “The driver, conductor and a Network Rail guy who happened to be on board were going through the carriages and making sure everyone was OK.
“The driver and conductor were the heroes.”