A TRAIN smashed into a car in Oxford after it was stolen from the Mini plant and abandoned on the track. 

A freight train hit an abandoned vehicle on the railway line in Littlemore this morning, and police are investigating the theory that it was taken from the car factory in Cowley and driven for miles along the track.

The Mini plant has confirmed it is cooperating with police and suspects the car was taken from its site.

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A spokesman for the BMW group said: "I can confirm we are assisting the police following an incident involving a car and a freight train on the railway track in the Littlemore area.

"We believe the vehicle in question was stolen from our site and would urge anyone with information to contact the police."

British Transport Police (BTP) teams were called at about 6.30am, to reports that a car had been left on the track behind Astrop Lane. 

Oxford Mail:

The railway line running beneath Sandford Road. Pic: Google Maps

It initially said the train had slowed in time to avoid a collision, but has since clarified that the train struck the vehicle on the track near Sandford Road.

The car was empty and the driver of the train was treated for shock, according to police, but no-one else was injured in the incident.

Thames Valley Police was called to the scene to assist transport officers, and Sandford Road was closed to through traffic between the Cowley Road and Heyford Hill Lane junctions.

British Transport Police has launched an investigation as to how the car came to be left on the track.

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A spokesman for the force said: "BTP officers were called at 6.36am on Tuesday to a report of an abandoned car on an area of track near Astrop Lane, Oxford."

"The car has since been recovered and enquiries into how it came to be at the location are ongoing."

Police did not clarify how the car gained access to the track, which is part of the Cowley Branch Line.

The route, currently used for freight by BMW, has been shut to passengers since 1963 but plans are ongoing to bring passenger trains back. 

There is a gate leading to the railway line in Railway Lane, near where the crash happened, but it is closed to the public and is usually padlocked shut.

Oxford Mail:

Gates in Railway Lane. Pic: Google Maps

One Oxford Mail reader said she had heard sirens 'all morning' in Littlemore as emergency services dealt with the incident.

Another also said the car was stolen from BMW, and claimed the vehicle was 'driven out via the rail line' by someone 'looking for an exit', though police have not yet corroborated this. 

If this is accurate, the driver would have had to have travelled for about two miles along the railway track before reaching the point where it was abandoned.

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British Transport Police had previously stated the train had slowed in time to avoid striking the car, but later clarified that the vehicle had indeed been hit.

Sandford Road was shut until about 8am while officers investigated, which caused slow traffic around Littlemore as drivers diverted to avoid the area.

Police have been contacted for further details.