A GRANDMOTHER has miraculously survived after a train ploughed into her small car at a level crossing.
The incident occurred around 8pm on Monday when Margaret Riordan (69) drove her Nissan Micra on to the railway tracks on the main Limerick to Dublin line near Birdhill, Co Tipperary.
At the same time, the 6.20pm service from Ballybrophy to Limerick was approaching with 10 people -- including eight passengers -- on board and smashed into her car, flipping it on to its roof.
The safety gates on the road had been left open.
Moments later, Mrs Riordan, a mother of 14, crawled out of the wreckage having suffered minor cuts and bruises.
The Irish Independent has learned that the gates which prevent motorists and pedestrians from straying on to the railway line had been left open before Mrs Riordan approached the tracks at an area known locally as Kelly's Cross.
The gates are not automated and it is up to each motorist or pedestrian who opens and closes the gates to ensure that it is safe to cross the line and that no train is approaching while they are travelling over the tracks.
The gates must be closed by members of the public after they cross over the line for the safety of road and rail commuters.
Mrs Riordan, who is from the Ballina area of Tipperary, was driving on her own at the time of the incident.
It is understood that the train was travelling at around 25mph and the driver sounded the horn when he spotted the woman's car on the tracks.
However, the train driver was unable to stop and smashed into the right-hand side of the Micra.
The windows of the overturned car were all smashed, in the collision.
Mrs Riordan was badly shaken after the collision and brought to the Mid-Western regional hospital in Limerick for treatment.
Yesterday, she was recovering at her home in Tipperary.
A relative told the Irish Independent that the family were shocked with Mrs Riordan's ordeal and have asked for privacy.
Last night, Iarnrod Eireann, the rail accident investigation unit and the gardai were all making enquiries into Monday's collision.
None of the passengers on board were injured and they were transferred via bus on to Limerick.