Seven cattle have died after being hit by a passenger train in west Wales.
Three of the animals were killed and a further four had to be destroyed after suffering serious injuries during the accident near Whitland on Monday night (25 August).
Their owner, Edward Howells, only learned about the accident 12 hours later, after a neighbour informed him.
Network Rail insists it made every effort to establish ownership but Mr Howells expressed surprise that the company had not contacted him because his farm runs alongside the track.
“There must have been quite an impact, I’m amazed it didn’t derail the train,” said Mr Howells, of Upper Fron Farm, Llanddewi Velfrey.
It is understood the cattle had wandered on to the track after breaking through an access gate and were hit by the 22.28 Pembroke Dock to Carmarthen train. They had been in a field with 22 others.
“It is lucky that more were not killed because they had all escaped from the field except one. Ironically they should have been sold last week but we decided to hold on to them for a bit longer,” said Mr Howells. The dead cattle were Belgian Blue, Aberdeen Angus and Friesian breeds.
The Howells’ family has farmed the land since 1982 and had only previously lost two cattle and a ewe on the track.
Mr Howells said a representative from his insurers had visited the site and that he would be claiming compensation from Network Rail.
A spokesman for Network Rail said its staff had attended the accident scene and had made “every effort” to contact the owner of the cattle. “Unfortunately we were unable to raise them,” he said.
“Assistance, which was greatly appreciated, was provided by two other local farmers as well as a vet who arrived at about 1am to euthanise the injured animals.”
He said the company’s policy was to contact the owners of any livestock – injured or otherwise – which come to be on the railway. “In this instance, with advice from the neighbouring farmer and the vet in attendance, our priority was to end the suffering of the injured animals as quickly as possible,” he said.
“A full inspection of trackside fencing in the area was carried out and all found to be in order. We suspect the cattle came on to the railway via a level-crossing gate in the area which had been left open.”