Train operator Northern and Network Rail are appealing for information after a group of individuals threw a log into the path of an oncoming train near Bolton.
The incident, which happened on the Manchester side of Farnworth Tunnel, happened just before 6:30 pm, Monday 14 March.
It resulted in a smashed window and caused a brief fire on the service, which was travelling from Blackpool North to Hazel Grove with more than 100 passengers on-board.
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Fortunately, no one was hurt, everyone was safely evacuated from the train and it was moved away from the scene last night so repairs to the railway could take place.
More than 31 other trains were delayed as a result of the incident, which is now being investigated by British Transport Police.
Chris Jackson, regional director for Northern, said: “This was totally reckless behaviour by mindless individuals who gave no thought for other people’s safety.
“The consequences of a log hitting a fast-moving train are potentially devastating and I urge anyone with information as to the identities of those responsible to contact British Transport Police.”
As well as damaging the Northern train, the vandals wrecked more than 200 metres of the complex web of 25,000 volt overhead electric cable which power trains, as well as the structures and equipment which hold them up.
Network Rail engineers worked throughout the night to get the wires fixed and trains are now running through the area again.
However, knock-on delays are expected throughout the day so passengers travelling between Manchester and Bolton are urged to check www.nationalrail.co.uk for the latest travel information.
Phil James, Network Rail’s North West route director, said: “I’m disgusted by this dangerous and reckless act of vandalism. The people responsible put the safety of our passengers and colleagues at risk.
“They have caused thousands of pounds of damage to the railway infrastructure and significantly disrupted services travelling between Manchester and Bolton.
“We are working closely with the British Transport Police to catch the culprits. I’d urge anyone with any information to contact them and make a report.”
You can contact British Transport Police by texting 61016 or by calling 0800 40 50 40.
Alternatively, people can call Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.Enjoy more Railways Illustrated Magazine reading every month. Click here to subscribe.