A MAN who survived an apparent suicide attempt when he laid down on rail tracks and a train drove over him has been jailed for a year.

The train driver thought he had been involved in a fatality when he slammed on his brakes but was unable to avoid running over William McNeil.

In fact, McNeil walked away with a relatively minor injury, Preston Crown Court heard yesterday.

Five hours of delays were caused, with up to 20 trains affected on the line at Mill Hill, Blackburn following the incident in June.

McNeil, 51, of Exeter Street, Blackburn, had already pleaded guilty before magistrates and was referred to the crown court for an offence of obstructing an engine or carriage.

A judge jailed him for eight months for the offence, with four months on top for breaching an earlier suspended sentence.

Bob Elias, prosecuting, said: “Probably every train driver’s worst nightmare was someone wandering or trespassing in front of them and being knocked down and run over by his train.”

The driver was heading from Blackburn towards Blackpool and approaching Mill Hill station on the morning of June 10 when he saw McNeil walk towards the track.

He sounded his horn but the defendant crossed one track and then laid down in the middle of the track where the train was on-coming.

Mr Elias said: “The train driver was quite sure he had killed him. He describes himself as being very shocked and upset.”

McNeil was found walking in the road nearby and taken to Royal Blackburn Hospital. He was drunk and confused.

Judge Stuart Baker said: “It must have been absolutely awful for the driver to think that his train had killed someone.”