Published: 15:44, 23 October 2017
Kent commuters were struggling to get home tonight after a train crash caused havoc to rush-hour rail services.
The incident happened at 3pm this afternoon when a high-speed Javelin train on its way to London St Pancras struck a delivery van on a level crossing near Teynham between Faversham and Sittingbourne.
The van driver, a man in his 30s, was taken to hospital with head injuries.
British Transport Police said officers were called to the scene at Frognal Farm crossing on the Lower Road after reports a train had struck a van. Kent Police and ambulance staff were also there.
A South East Coast Ambulance Service spokesman said: "The patient was fully conscious but had a head injury. The patient has been taken to Medway Maritime Hospital."
The spokesman added: "There is nothing to suggest anything life-changing but enough to need further treatment."
The train was left with a large gash ripped in its front nose cone. The front of the van's bonnet was ripped off in the collision.
Train company Southeastern confirmed the crash was causing huge delays to commuter train services between London and the Kent Coast tonight while British Transport Police warned of "significant delays" as inquiries were completed.
A spokesman for Southeastern said tonight: "The damaged train was taken to Sittingbourne but the power to the track remained isolated until the debris and the van was removed."
She added: "There has been minimal damage to the track."
The van was removed and the track reopened at 6.20pm. But Southeastern stressed: "There is a big backlog. We don't expect to get everything back to normal until about 1am tomorrow."
High-speed services were diverted through Ashford and trains from Victoria and Cannon Street were sent to Maidstone East.
Southeastern says it hired in a fleet of emergency buses but added it was difficult to find enough at short notice.
The crash had a severe knock-on effect for Medway, Dartford and Thanet.
Replacement buses were still operating between Sittingbourne and Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey this evening.
The incident had a knock-on effect across the rail network with at least one Kent-bound train from London reportedly being delayed due to no train management being available as staff were displaced by the Teynham incident.
Passengers also reported chaotic scenes at Ebbsfleet station as many got off early to avoid the replacement bus service and get lifts from friends and family, creating long traffic queues around the station.