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British Transport Police (BTP) is investigating how a supermarket trolley was placed in the path of a train from Cambridge travelling at 100mph in Hertfordshire.
Passengers had to remain on the service for two hours after the train suffered damage to its braking system in the collision at Welwyn Garden City last month.
Train operator Govia Thameslink Railway is offering a reward of £1,000 if information leads to the successful prosecution of offenders.
Detective Sergeant Alan Bardsley said:
"Shortly after 6pm on Tuesday, 10 February, the driver of the 5.17pm service from Cambridge to London Kings Cross was forced to make an emergency stop under Digswell Rise footbridge in Welwyn Garden City, after it struck a shopping trolley.
I believe the trolley was thrown from the bridge deliberately. Travelling at 100mph, it was only the skill of the driver and significant luck the train wasn't derailed. It was wanton, senseless vandalism.
I want to hear from anyone who walked across Digswell Rise footbridge early that evening – 10 February. What did you see? Please contact BTP if you have any information."
Tony Holland, Crime Prevention Manager for Govia Thameslink Railway, which operated the train, said:
"This severe act of deliberate vandalism caused severe delays for our passengers and could have led to a very serious accident, putting hundreds of lives at risk. We would urge anyone with information to please come forward."
Anyone with information on this incident should contact British Transport Police, on 0800 405040, or text 61016, quoting reference B12/ESUB of 9 March 2015.
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