AN investigation has been launched after a woman was seriously injured when her car struck a train on a heritage railway. 

The incident involving a VW Polo and a Wensleydale Railway train at a level crossing on Dolly Lane, between Ainderby Steeple and Yafforth, near Northallerton, came on the first day the stretch of line had reopened following a major repairs project.

Emergency services were alerted to a driver trapped in her car at 2pm on Wednesday, and two crews from Northallerton were at the scene within minutes and freed the woman from her wrecked car using hydraulic cutting equipment.

She was found to have sustained non-life threatening head and leg injuries and was airlifted to James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough.

The driver of the train, who is said to have been very experienced, is understood to be in shock.

The incident has dismayed the management and volunteers of the 22-mile line, which has been running since 2003 and carries around 35,000 passengers into the Yorkshire Dales every year, after the stretch between Leeming Bar and Northallerton West was declared fit to resume services.

It is understood the automated level crossing signals at Dolly Lane, an area where train speeds are restricted, had been checked and that investigations into the incident, including one by the Railway Inspectorate, will also examine the actions of the driver.

Councillor Carl Les, a director of the railway and leader of North Yorkshire County Council, said: “There is always a risk with level crossings, which is why the road user and rail user must take care. That’s why we have built two bridges on the Bedale bypass.”

It is believed to be the first level crossing incident on the heritage railway line in several years, following several cars colliding with trains on the track between 2013 and 2011, the Office of Rail Regulation issuing an improvement notice and safety work by the railway.