Cows are frequent invaders of rail lines, especially in rural areas.

In the majority of incidents nothing happens other than disruption however if one or more are hit then chaos will ensue due to the damage caused when a train collides with up to 1660 lbs of raw beef.

The worst incident that I know of was the Polmont rail accident in July 1984 which one cow killed 13 people just outside Falkirk.

Cow on line outside Cardiff Central

Due to the number of incidents of these happening I'm starting to record these here. If you know of any that I've not listed here please let me know via Twitter.





  • Dec 3 - A cow hit by 0652 Edinburg to London Euston train in Milnthorpe, Cumbria. Lines at Oxenholm reopened at 10:57[1]


  • Oct 16 - A horse has been hit by a train in the ThorneNorth area affecting Northern Rail (included as it has a similar effects)


  • Sep 8 - Cow is hit & killed by Cambridge-bound Greater Anglia train between Roydon and Harlow Town stations.[2]


  • Aug 22 - A Stray cow causes chaos for Southeastern commuters after escaping between Faversham and Whitstable[3]
  • Aug 18 & 19 - two incidents of Cows on the same stretch of Edinburgh to Glasgow rail line within 24 hours of each other[4]:
    • Monday Aug 19 a train pulling three carriages hit a cow east of Lenzie at 10:30am, shortly after it had pulled out from Croy station. Both lines were closed for more than six hours while Network Rail engineers cleared the corpse and checked both the train and rails for damage. Both lines were finally re-opened at 4:45pm.
    • Sunday Aug 18 a similar incident on roughly the same stretch of rail, through to the west of Lenzie station, which caused minimal disruption.
  • Aug 9 - East Coast train from Glasgow to London hit a cow, causing delays between Doncaster and York for more than three hours.[5]
  • Aug 1 - A London Midland service from Euston collided with a cow near Milton Keynes shortly before 6pm. Services to Northampton and Milton Keynes were halted for the remainder of the night as the train was removed from the track[6]


  • Jun 30 First Great Western train hits a cow outside of Castly Cary[7]
  • Jun 24 C2C suffered delays between Leigh and Benfleet after a cow strayed onto the line at about 12.20pm. It was off the line by 1.20pm and trains returned to normal.[8].
  • Jun 23 Arriva Trains Wales service from Cardiff carrying 15 passengers struck cattle on the line between Ferryside and Carmarthen at around 10 pm[9]
  • Jun 17 Scotrail trains between Glasgow Queen Street and Edinburgh via Falkirk High were disrupted after a train hit a herd of cows around 11am near Cadder sidings. At least one animal is thought to have been killed in the incident. Police, fire, and Network Rail staff were at the scene to remove the cow carcass from the track.[10]


  • July 12 At about 18:40 hrs on Thursday 12 July 2012, train 1B67, the 14:35 hrs service from Gloucester to Fishguard Harbour, struck several cows near Letterston Junction on the single line between Clarbeston Road and Fishguard & Goodwick stations in Pembrokeshire causing the train to derail[11]


  • May 2011[12] cows invaded the West Coast line between Nuneaton & Rugby to become the fifth worst cause of delays that month.
  • January 2011 a train hit a cow[13] on the line between Swindon and Didcot causing delays on the main line to Paddington. A First Great Western spokesman said: "There were reports of a number of cows on the line. It appears as if the train hit one which damaged the engine." The incident, which took place at Bourton near the Wiltshire border, stopped the train for 40 minutes. It then travelled on to Didcot Parkway where passengers were asked to change to the next available service.


  • November 2010[14] posted an incident outside Cardiff central where "It sounds funny now but the train stopped for 20 minutes just outside my station because the animal had got onto the tracks. The farmer then followed the cow to chase him off the rails."


  • July 30 The Polmont rail accident[15], also known as the Polmont rail disaster, occurred to the west of Polmont, near Falkirk in Scotland, when a westbound push-pull express train travelling from Edinburgh to Glasgow struck a cow which had gained access to the track through a damaged fence from a field near Polmont railway station. The collision caused all six carriages and the locomotive of the train to derail, killing 13 people and injuring 61 others. The accident led to a debate about the safety of push-pull trains on British Rail.


  1. TRAIN HITS COW IN CUMBRIA, LINE REOPENS, North West Evening Mail, Dec 4 2013
  2. Rail services through Stortford disrupted after cow is killed by train Herts & Essex Observer, Sep 8 2003 retrieved Sep 9 2003
  3. Moo-ve off the tracks! Stray cow causes chaos for Southeastern commuters after escaping between Faversham and Whitstable, Kent Online, retrieved Aug 22 2013
  4. Delay on Edinburgh to Glasgow line as train hits cow The Scotsman, Aug 22 2013
  5. Train hits cow causing delays between Doncaster and York BBC Aug 9 2013, retrieved Aug 22 2013
  6. Major commuter route shut for five hours after train hit a cow on the line, Evening Standard retrieved Aug 22 2013
  7. Cow hit by train - Castle Cary 30/6/2013, Great Western Passengers' Forum Jun 30 2013, retrieved Aug 22 2013
  8. Cow on the line causes delays between Leigh and Benfleet Jun 24 2013 retrieved Aug 22 2013
  9. Cattle and mobility scooter hit by trains, This is South Wales Jun 26 2013, retrieved Aug 22 2013
  10. Cows on the line: Glasgow-Edinburgh rail services badly disrupted Herald Scotland, Jun 17 2013 retrieved Aug 22 2013
  11. 121120_B052012_Letterston_Junction.pdf PDF Rail Accident Investigation Branch - RAIB Bulletin 05/2012, retrieved Aug 22 2013
  12. Cows on the line among top delays in May - Network Rail BBC News, 13 June 2011, retrieved Sept 20, 2011
  13. Train hits cow between Swindon and Didcot BBC News, 18 January 2011, retrieved Sept 20, 2011
  14. Unusual sights on a train or at the station, Nov 10, 2010, retrieved Sept 20 2011
  15. Polmont rail accident Wikipedia retrieved Aug 22 2013