Northern Ireland’s infrastructure minister has said she is “deeply concerned” after a train narrowly avoided a collision with a burning car left on a railway track.

Only the quick reaction of the train driver brought the passenger service to a stop just short of the flaming vehicle near Bellarena late on Monday evening.

Investigators are now working to find out who is responsible for leaving the car on the line, an act police described as “reckless endangerment to life”.

The Translink company said the “attack” occurred around 9pm on Monday, involving a train running from Belfast to Derry-Londonderry.

“The train driver reacted quickly and thankfully brought the train to a stop safely, short of where the car was burning,” said Translink Group chief executive Chris Conway.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) did not say whether they believed the incident to be connected to the recent outbreak of riots in some parts of the country.

Six passengers got off the carriages safely, before fire and rescue officials extinguished the flames. “It is very fortunate that no-one has been injured in this incident,” said Mr Conway.

Mr Conway said Translink would be working with the PSNI to investigate the incident, adding: “We utterly condemn this attack which had the potential for very serious consequences.”

Nichola Mallon, the SDLP’s deputy leader and the province’s minister for infrastructure, said she was “deeply concerned by this incident”.

She said: “I am so relieved to hear that passengers and crew are all safe. It is unimaginable to think what could have happened this evening had it not been for the prompt action of the driver and crew.”

The minister added: “I want to express my gratitude to them and to the emergency services. I would urge anyone with any information about this incident to contact the PSNI.”

Sinn Fein assembly member Caoimhe Archibald condemned those responsible for the “completely reckless” act of leaving the car on the line.

PSNI chief inspector Sinead McIldowney praised the “heroics of our colleagues” in the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service.

“Our investigation is currently underway to establish the circumstances into this incident,” she added.

Police appealed for any witnesses to the incident to contact police quoting incident number 1945 for 12 April.

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