A TAXI driver has appeared in court after he drove his car onto a railway line before being hit by a train.

Mumtaz Ali (68) of Paignton Avenue, Newcastle, appeared at Newcastle Magistrates’ Court on Thursday.

Ali pleaded not guilty to one charge of dangerous driving relating to the incident on January 7 last year. However, he had previously pleaded guilty to a charge of careless driving.

The court heard that Ali had been driving a passenger to an unknown location, and had been told to turn left before the level crossing near Warden. Ali, who said he had never driven in the area, got confused and turned left on to the railway track, and became stuck.

Speaking via an interpretor, Mr Ali said: “I don’t know much about the area. I’ve not been there before.

“My passenger told me to go to Hexham and then he would direct me from there.

“It was very dark where the accident took place. The man was directing me and he said turn left. I got confused and my car skidded and it got stuck.

“I tried to go back but it wouldn’t go back, so I tried to go forward and do a three point turn, but then the car got more stuck.”

The court heard that Mr Ali had been a taxi driver for 25 years and had never had another accident.

The collision between the train and the taxi happened at around 7.15pm.

At the time, British Transport Police said no casualties were reported, but trains were cancelled or delayed due to the lines being blocked. Both the taxi and the train were damaged in the crash.

Magistrates found that Ali had not been driving dangerously, and charged him with careless driving instead.

He was given nine points on his driving licence, and ordered to pay a fine of £387, as well as costs of £85 and a victim surcharge of £36.