Five horses have died after being hit by two trains in Co. Durham.
The animals had strayed onto the tracks near Dinsdale yesterday (Tuesday 10 February), when they were struck and killed by the trains.
One train was travelling from Darlington, the other from Saltburn.
“The incident happened around 7am,” a spokesman from Northern Rail, which operates the trains, told H&H.
“We are unsure how the horses got on to the tracks. No passengers or staff were injured though some disruption was caused to train services.”
It is as yet unclear who owned the horses, or how they came to be on the tracks.
A British Transport Police spokesman added: “We were called to the railway line near Teesside Airport station after reports a number of horses had been struck by two trains.
“Colleagues from Durham Police and the Environment Agency were also been in attendance.
“Five horses were killed and two other horses are now in the care of the RSPCA. It is not clear how the horses came to be on the line.”
This is the second incident involving a group of horses on railway lines in the past three months.
The horses were struck after wandering on to the Fen Road level crossing in Milton. Again, it was not discovered who owned the horses.
More than 200 passengers were travelling on the trains involved. One lady was taken to hospital with minor injuries but was later discharged. Some passengers reported a loud “bang” but no one was seriously hurt.
Although some incidents in the past months have involved animals that have been dumped and fly-grazed, in December H&H put out a warning to horse owners to secure fencing after a spate of horses escaping onto roads.
With hedges bare of leaves in the winter, many are finding it easier to get out of their fields.
Horse owners are also reminded that under the Animals Act 1971 they are liable for their animals’ actions should they cause an accident.
“We would always advise owners to ensure that their horse is kept in a field with secure fencing and if a horse is tethered, to ensure that he is tethered safely according to the Code of Practice on Tethering,” said a spokesman for World Horse Welfare.
Anyone with any information should call the police on 101.