'Sheer luck' nobody was injured after train driver used phone seconds before Kirkby crash

Former train driver Phillip Hollis pleaded guilty to endangering the safety of passengers following the collision. Credit: Gov.uk

A train driver who crashed at almost three times the speed limit was texting seconds before the train derailed at Kirkby Station, police have revealed.

Phillip Hollis, 59, pleaded guilty at Liverpool Magistrates' Court to endangering the safety of passengers following the collision in Knowsley on 13 March, 2021.

British Transport Police (BTP) say the former Merseyrail employee was driving a train from Liverpool which travelled into the station at 40mph, instead of the speed limit of 15mph.

Despite Hollis, of Spellow Lane, Liverpool, applying the emergency brakes, the train crashed into the buffer stop and derailed.

It caused an estimated £450,000 in damage to the station, a BTP spokesperson said.

The train was derailed during the incident. Credit: Viewer footage

They say it was "sheer luck" that none of the 14 passengers, including the driver and guard, were seriously injured during the incident.

"Hollis told police that his bag had fallen off a cupboard in the cab and he'd stood up to retrieve it along with a bottle of Lucozade, before sitting back down and seeing the buffers approaching", the spokesperson said.

"However, when Hollis's phone was seized and analysed, detectives found he'd sent a WhatsApp message at 6.51.34pm, 26 seconds before the crash.

"He was interviewed again by detectives and admitted his phone should have been turned off in the cab."

The incident caused almost half a million pounds worth of damage to Kirkby Station. Credit: ITV News

Hollis, who was dismissed by Merseyrail after the incident, is due to be sentenced at a later date.

Detective Chief Inspector Steve May said: "This was a complex investigation but we could be confident from our analysis that Hollis was using his phone in the seconds before crashing the train into Kirkby station at high speed.

"I have no doubt this will have caused him to become distracted while driving, endangering the safety of the passengers and staff on board.

"It was only through sheer luck that they weren't seriously injured or worse, killed, as a result of this incredibly dangerous incident."

Emergency services at the scene of the Kirkby station derailment in March 2021.