A 55-year-old Ffairfach man had a miraculous escape after his car was hit by a train on a railway crossing.

Peter Burns, of Meusydd Mill, narrowly escaped a catastrophic collision when an Arriva Trains engine carrying 12 passengers and three crew struck the rear of his Land Rover as he crossed the Heart of Wales line close to his home on August 1, 2014.

Nick Newton prosecuting, told Llanelli Magistrates Court: “Burns saw the oncoming train and thought he had enough time to cross the crossing.

“He drove across the tracks and an oncoming train clipped the rear of his vehicle.”

No one was injured, but the incident caused a 30-minute delay to the train journey.

Defence solicitor Laura Sherwood, described how Burns had lived facing the railway line for more than 14 years and crossed the track almost on a daily basis.

“The usual protocol for crossing the railway line is to call the signal box based at Ammanford," she said.

A staff member would then tell Burns whether it was safe to cross the track.

"He did not do that on this particular occasion because he thought he had heard the train pass just minutes before – it was an error of judgement," said Ms Sherwood.

Sentencing Burns, District Judge Davis Parsons said: “I will except on this occasion your obvious lack of judgement – and the fact that no one was injured.”

Burns was ordered to pay £500 compensation and £85 costs.

PC Phil James, of British Transport Police, said: “Burns’ actions were reckless and dangerous, and the consequences could have been far more serious.

“Fortunately, the impact during this collision was minimal. However, had the train arrived just a split-second sooner, it could have been a very different story.

“This incident just goes to show how a momentary lapse could have had fatal results.

“We understand that waiting at a crossing can be frustrating, but second guessing if a train is due through simply isn’t worth the risk.

“People may think they know the lines well and know the passenger timetables, but they don’t know freight timetables, with services running 24 hours a day.

“Always check, never assume a train has passed. If you are in any doubt, phone the signalman for confirmation.

“I would urge people to heed the warning served by this incident and pay crossings the respect they deserve.

“Taking a chance at a crossing can have dire consequences. Stop, think and be sensible, because one moment of impatience could result in lives being destroyed.”