A CAR has been hit by a train at a level crossing on a heritage railway line previously criticised over safety issues.

The train, operated by Wensleydale Railway, struck the vehicle at an automatic crossing on the A684 near Leeming Bar, North Yorkshire, at 3.15pm yesterday.

A spokesman for North Yorkshire Police said no-one was injured and that it had not been necessary to close the road. No one from the railway was last night available for comment.

Motorists said traffic tailed back for up to a mile following the accident - caused by a carriage blocking the crossing.

In November, Wensleydale Railway was ordered to pay £8,000 for health and safety breaches following a collision between a car and a steam train with 58 passengers aboard at a crossing at Newton le Willows, near Bedale. No-one was injured in the August 2011 incident but the car was badly damaged.

A month earlier, a woman had a narrow escape at the same user-worked Fox Park crossing - which links a farm access with a public road -  when her car was hit by a steam train.

Last year, the Office of Rail Regulation, issued an improvement notice after it found there were significant safety management shortcomings.

Concerns over the Leeming Bar to Redmire line, which carries around 35,000 passengers into the Yorkshire Dales every year, were raised after a tractor and a train collided at a level crossing near Bedale in June, 2011.

Nigel Park, the railway's general manager, has previously said strenuous efforts were being made to improve safety on the line.

Volunteers have been tackling a 50-year backlog of maintenance on the line, and have worked to improve visibility at its 48 user-worked level crossings, as well as launching a campaign to ensure people shut gates at crossings.

The charity-run railway has plans to extend the line deep into the Yorkshire Dales and to Northallerton.