A steam railway enthusiast was crushed to death in North Yorkshire after a locomotive slipped into the wrong gear, trapping him between carriages, an inquest heard.

Retired police officer Robert Lund, 65, died almost instantly from “extreme” chest and abdominal injuries, North Yorkshire Coroners’ Court in Scarborough was told.

Mr Lund, from Beverley, was working as a guard on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway when he was fatally injured at Grosmont station on May 21 last year. Another volunteer, Norman Ash, who was driving the S15 steam locomotive, said Mr Lund was helping him shunt and uncouple carriages at the station shortly before the incident.

Mr Lund unhooked some coaches and signalled the driver to move away, and it is thought he returned to the area between the carriages, the jury heard. However, the locomotive unexpectedly moved off in the wrong direction, Mr Ash told coroner Michael Oakley.

Mr Ash, a retired professional train driver with more than 50 years’ experience, said it is possible he did not lock a reversing lever into place, which could have allowed the locomotive to slip between forward and reverse.

He said: “I turned round to see which way I was going and the next thing I knew I was going the opposite way. I slapped the emergency brake on. I was more concerned we were going to collide with the coaches we’d just come off. I never even thought about Mr Lund going back between the coaches. There was no impact at all.”

Mr Ash said he got off the footplate. He said: “I found Mr Lund trapped. All I can remember is seeing his legs dangling down from between the coaches. That’s all I could see.”

Pathologist Nigel Cooper said Mr Lund died of chest and abdomen injuries. The inquest was resuming today when the jury will be sent out to consider its verdict.