TrainImage copyright RAIB
Image caption The train was clearing leaves when it hit a tree

Two rail workers jumped from a runaway train when its brakes failed after it hit a tree in Fife, accident investigators have found.

The 40mph collision near Markinch station disabled the maintenance train’s brakes, according to a preliminary report by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB).

The train reached an uphill section of track, but then rolled backwards.

After making an emergency call, the crew jumped onto the trackside.

They suffered minor injuries.

The train eventually stopped at a low point near Thornton North Junction after rolling forwards and backwards several times.

It was being used to clear leaves from the track with water jets at about 04:25 on 17 October.

The driver saw the tree shortly before impact and applied the emergency brake.

Damage to the underside of the train caused the brakes to be “irreversibly released”, the RAIB said.

A full investigation by the RAIB will consider the design of the train’s braking system, the actions of the crew and the proximity of other trains on the affected route.

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