AN 11-year-old boy was fighting for his life last night after the car he was in crashed on to a railway line in Northumberland.
The child suffered life-threatening injuries when the car left the A69 near Haltwhistle and veered on to the adjacent rail track.
The car was struck a glancing blow by a passing freight train on the line near Haltwhistle as snow swept across the North East yesterday.
An adult and a teenager aged 16 in the car also suffered minor injuries but did not go to hospital.
No-one on board the eastbound freight train was injured and there was no significant damage to the train.
Ambulance crews from Carlisle and Newcastle raced to the scene before the entire line from Carlisle to the MetroCentre was eventually closed as investigations got under way.
Replacement buses were drafted in with the drama adding to the transport chaos across the region caused by the snowfall and surface ice.
It was not certain last night whether the wintry conditions had any part to play in the accident, which happened at 4.25pm.
A North East Ambulance Service spokesman said the RAF helicopter was called in in the dark conditions for the 35-mile flight to Newcastle.
The A69 was closed for several hours between the B6318 at Greenhead and the B6321 at Haltwhistle.
Northumbria Police advised lorries to avoid the A69 altogether and said: “It appears that a car has, for reasons to be established, crashed on to the railway and may have received a glancing blow from a passing train.
“The train stopped further down the line and does not appear to have suffered significant damage and no-one on board appears to have been injured.”
A spokesman for Network Rail said: “We had to close the line and ran buses between Carlisle and the Metrocentre.
“At first we were unable to operate the service between Carlisle and Hexham, but later had to extend the closure as far as the MetroCentre.
“Unfortunately the roads were also in bad condition because of snow and the railway line closure caused extra problems.”