ACCIDENTS APPERTAINING TO THE MANAGEMENT.
ACCIDENTS FROM TRAINS ENTERING STATIONS AT TOO HIGH A
EDINBURGH, PERTH, AND
Railway Department, Board of Trade, Sir
Whitehall, 27 March 1856.
I have the honour to acquaint you, for the information of the Lords of
the Committee of Privy Council for Trade, that I have inquired into the
circumstances connected with a collision that occurred jn the Leith Station
of the Edinburgh Perth, and Dundee Railway, on the 8th instant.
The train consisted of two passenger carriages and two loaded wagons.
The passenger carriages are provided with powerful breaks, and they are always
so placed as to have their ends from whence the break handles are worked
adjoining, so that if one break is not sufficient to check the train, the
guard who rides outside may step from one carriage to the other, and apply
a second break. The line fails with a steep gradient to within 600 yards
of the Leith Station, when the gradient changes to a rising one. The engine
is detached from the train about 700 yards from the station, and it is left
to the guard to bring it up safely to the platform, the break power he has
at his command being considered quite sufficient On the occasion of the collision
he failed to bring up the train, and the leading carriage in it came in contact
with the fixed buffers at the end of the station. The excuse the guard makes
is, that the break of the carriage in which he was riding would not act,
and as he was stepping on to the other carriage to apply its break, the collision
occurred. The locomotive superintendent assured me that nothing had been
done to the breaks since the collision; and if this be the case, and I have
no reason to question the truth of his statement, the break must have been
in perfect order, as I found it perfectly efficient when I inspected it,
and having tested it, I found its power was ample to bring up a train similarly
composed to the one which came into collision with the buffers. There is
however no doubt that the other break was efficient, and in good working
order ; and I think, therefore, the accident must be ascribed to carelessness
on the part of the guard. The arrangement of the Company in placing two breaks
within control of the guard is a good one, and should be sufficient to keep
the train under perfect control.
I am, &c.
The Secretary of the
Railway Department, Board of Trade.
Lieut-Colonel Royal Engineers
GREAT WESTERN RAILWAY.
Railway Department, Board of Trade, Sir,
Whitehall, October SO, 1856.
In compliance with the instructions contained in your letter of the 14th
instant, I have the honour to report, for the information of the Lords
of the Committee of Privy Council for Trade, the result of my inquiry into
the circumstances connected with the accident which occurred on the 6th
instant, at the Salisbury Station of the Great Western Railway.
It appears that the regular fortnightly cattle train, from Bristol to
Salisbury, left Bristol on the 6th October, at 1 h. 35 m. p.m.
The train consisted of 35 trucks and one break-van, and it reached Westbury
at 4 h. 0m. p.m.
The line of the Wilts, Somerset, and Weymouth Railway, between Westbury
and Salisbury, is single throughout, and in consequence, it is worked with
the aid of the electric telegraph. Between Westbury and the next station,
4 1/2 miles distant, (Warminster,) there is a steep incline, and in consequence
the train had to be divided into two parts; and the second part, drawn
by two engines, the leading one of which was a tank engine, left Westbury
at 7h. 15 m., reached Warminster with the second part of the train at 7h.
40m. p.m., and left at 7 h. 50 m. ; reached Wylye, 10 miles from Salisbury,
at 8h. 15m., where the leading engine took in water.
The train had been placed in charge of the driver of the leading engine,
as he had previously made three trips with the only cattle trains that
had been sent to Salisbury; but the driver and stoker of the second engine
had not been down the line before.
Between Wylye and Salisbury there are three intermediate stations, viz.,
Landford, Whishford, and Wilton, the last being 2 m. 52 ch. from Salisbury.
After passing Wilton, there is a rising gradient of 1 in 270 for three-fourths
of a mile, then a level portion of 150 yards, and then rather a steep incline
down of 1 in 99 for 54 chains, succeeded by 1 in 182 for 72 chains, and
then level to the platform at Salisbury for 18 chains.
The station at Salisbury is protected by a station signal, and a distant
signal 23 chains from the platform, which distant signal is always kept
at "danger," and changed, when all is right within the yard, as soon as
the sound of the sharp signal whistle from an advancing engine is heard.
It can be seen from the engine 43 chains before it is reached, but the advancing
train cannot be seen from the signal post at a greater distance than 30
The train left Wylye at 8 h. 25 m., and about a quarter of an hour before
9 o'clock, the sharp signal whistle was sounded as the train came in sight
of the policeman, stationed at the distant signal, who at once changed
the red light to a white one, for the train to come on, all being right
within the yard; but when the policeman noticed that the train was advancing
at a very rapid rate, he very properly showed a red light with his hand-lamp.
The policeman states, that the train passed him at the rate of about 20
miles an hour, and that when about one half of its length had passed him,
the loud whistle for the guard's break was first sounded, and was continued
until the accident occurred. The train proceeded so rapidly into the station,
that the foreman of porters, who was on the end platform facing the train,
looking out for its arrival, immediately became alarmed, and took to his
heels, and had just got through the inner door of the office, opposite to
the departure platform, when the crash took place. The stout wooden stop
buffers at the end of the rail were first disposed of, the train then passed
through the platform, knocked down the wall of, and made its way into the
ladies' waiting room, and was finally brought up by the outer wall of the
same room, which it overthrew, and which bulged outwards and fell, as the
porter got through the outer door.
A very extraordinary scene of destruction was found in the station. The
two engines were greatly damaged, and the tender of the second engine was
raised on end, and had fallen on the fire-box of the engine, and had crushed
both the driver and stoker immediately to death. The poor fellows were, I
understand, shockingly mangled. The force of the concussion was such, that
truck was forced up and piled upon truck, and no less than 108 sheep were
destroyed; and although two other engines were brought from a distance, and
every effort made, the bodies of the driver and stoker could not be removed
before four o'clock in the morning.
The driver of the leading engine (tank) remained at his post and was
unhurt; but the stoker threw himself off the engine as he entered the station,
and was severely injured by coming in contact with one of the iron pillars
which support the roof. Fortunately the whole of the trucks kept to the
line of the rails, or the consequences might have been even still more
deplorable, as the whole roof might then have been thrown down.
There were two guards belonging to the train, riding in the break at
the tail of the train, together with two gentlemen connected with the cattle,
and four drovers.
The head guard informed me that as they passed Wilton, he thought the
speed was about 25 miles an hour, and that shortly afterwards it increased
; that when he was about a mile or a mile and a half from Salisbury, he put
on his break, and his mate assisted him to do so, but this was done without
any signal being given from the driver, and that before he saw the policeman's
red light in his hand-lamp, he exclaimed, " Good God, where are they going
to!" He states, that he heard the sharp signal whistle sounded "some
time," a "good bit of time," after he had put on his break; that the loud
break whistle was sounded just before he saw the policeman's hand-lamp, "it
might be the length of the train." But the policeman distinctly states, that
it was not sounded until about half the train had passed him. This would
only leave about 370 yards for the train to pull up in.
The head guard also told me, that the watch of the driver of the second
engine agreed with his own at Westbury, and when it was taken from his body,
it was found to have stopped at 8 h. 43m. This would indicate that the time
occupied in performing the journey from Wylye to Salisbury (10 miles) had
been 18 minutes, or an average speed of rather more than 33 miles an hour.
The train was not appointed to stop between Wylye and Salisbury, and
the driver of the leading engine informed me that be distinctly noticed
passing the stations, Langford, Whishford, and Wilton, the latter at about
20 miles an hour; that in consequence of the rise, after passing Wilton,
he had to go a little faster to get up the bank, and that he does not think
he was travelling any faster when he got to the top ; that he shut off his
steam when about a mile beyond Wilton or as soon as he got up the bank,
and that he then sounded the guard's break whistle, and that as the second
engine did not shut off the steam so soon he sounded the guard's whistle
a second time, just as he was coming in sight of the distant signal which
had a red light on ; that he then sounded the sharp signal whistle and the
red light was turned off and a white light shown instead; that he does not
know whether the steam was shut off from the second engine at this
time, but that as he found he was advancing too rapidly he sounded the guard's
whistle again, before passing the distant signal; that he did not recollect
hearing the second engine work as he passed the signal, but that the guard's
whistle was continually blowing until they reached the station; that he thinks
the second engine was reversed and the steam set on the reverse way when
he entered the station; that when he found he could not stop he reversed
his own engine and put on the steam the reversed way; that his break was
also on; that his fireman called his attention to their being near Salisbury
just as they were coming to the distant signal.
This man's statement was very clearly given, but the first part of it,
relating to his having sounded the loud break whistle before he sounded
the sharp signal for the red light to be turned off, is not in any way corroborated
by any other person, and is directly at variance with the testimony of the
two guards, the policeman at the distant signal, and even with his own fireman
; but he is evidently a very intelligent man, and the stoker very much the
The latter was very disinclined to speak out, but he says that the steam
was shut off at about the usual place as near as he could judge, about a
mile beyond Wilton, when they were travelling about 35 miles an hour; that
his mate sounded the sharp signal whistle immediately after; that he had not
seen the red light at the time the sharp whistle was sounded, and does not
know whether his mate had done so, but that it is not customary to sound the
sharp whistle unless a signal stands against them; that he noticed a white
and a green light in the policeman's hand-lamp immediately after the sharp
whistle was sounded ; that the loud break whistle was sounded directly after
the sharp whistle, more than half a mile before the signal is reached ; that
he said to his mate immediately before the sharp whistle was sounded "We
are near Salisbury," and he made the observation because he thought they were
going too fast.
The engines were found in the following state: the first was out of gear
and the steam shut off, in the usual state for entering a station, and as
far as could be judged the break had been applied. The second engine had
the tender break hard on, the engine was reversed and the steam set on the
reverse way, so that it appears when the drivers found they were going too
fast they did all in their power to stop, and those on the second engine were
killed on the spot in which they were evidently doing their duty.
A coroner's inquest was held on the bodies of the two men who were killed,
and verdicts of "Accidental death" were returned, with the following
addition, "The jury are of opinion that the Directors of the Great
Western Railway Company are censurable in sending by night men as engine drivers
without an accurate knowledge of the line over which they travel. The
jury are also of opinion that this accident would not have occurred if there
had been a signal at a greater distance from the station, and they
recommend that one be erected accordingly. The jury regret that the
arrangements of the branch line are such as to prevent the possibility of
the fortnightly special cattle trains arriving at the several stations
at the times appointed for them in the published time table."
I have carefully read over the report of the proceedings before the coroner,
but taking the whole of the circumstances therein detailed, and such additional
facts as came out during my own inquiry, I am unable to coincide with the
verdicts delivered by the jury.
It appears certain to me that the distance between Wylye and Salisbury
was travelled over at excessive speed for a train of this description;
that this speed was continued until the train had arrived so near to Salisbury
that the head guard became alarmed, applied his break and kept it on ; that
the driver of the leading engine instead of sounding the whistle for the
guard's break as soon as he saw the red light (which, as the night was very
dark without fog, could be seen at 66 chains from the platform), and taking
immediate steps for controlling and reducing the speed of the train, neglected
to do so until he had actually passed within the distant signal, there being
the greater necessity for his being careful from the fact of his having another
more powerful engine than his own behind him, in charge of a driver who had
never been over the line. Ignorance of the line cannot be admitted as an
excuse, as he was aware that he had passed Wilton, and when he saw the red
light he should have been still more than three-quarters of a mile from the
station, so that in my opinion there is not the least doubt that the accident
was solely caused by the culpable negligence of the driver of the leading
I would beg, however, to suggest that with regard to the future their
Lordships should call the attention of the Directors of the Great Western
Railway Company to the propriety of stopping all trains at Wilton Station,
or to the exhibition of a signal at a greater distance from the station,
or to the placing a signal at the summit of the bank beyond Wilton, with
instructions to the drivers of engines to shut off steam prior to running
down the incline. I should also suggest that the sidings at Warminster should
be considerably increased so as to avoid the great delay that is now caused
by having to keep trains waiting at Westbury.
I have, &c.
Captain Galton, Royal Engineers,
Lieut.-Colonel, Royal Engineers,
MANCHESTER, SHEFFIELD, AND
Railway Department, Board
Whitehall, December 13, 1856.
In compliance with the instructions contained in your letter of the 21st
ultimo, I have the honour to report, for the information of the Lords of
the Committee of Privy Council for Trade, the result of my inquiry into the
circumstances connected with the collision which occurred on the 8th November,
at the New Holland Station of the Manchester, Sheffield, and Lincolnshire
The traffic across the Humber from New Holland to Hull is conveyed by
a steam boat which is brought alongside of a pontoon, moored at the end
of a fixed pier at New Holland. This pier extends from New Holland Station
for a distance of about 370 yards, and at its extremity there is a passenger
shed under which the passenger trains are brought. Nearly midway between
the station and the passenger shed is a distant signal, worked from both
the passenger shed and New Holland Station, and serving as a distant signal
to trains standing at the station or on the pier.
All trains proceeding to New Holland Station, first pass along one side
of a curved triangle with the engine in front; they are then stopped and
backed down to the station, and afterwards on to the pier.
On the night of the 8th ultimo, the 4.15 p.m. or last up-train from Manchester
reached the passenger shed at the end of the pier about 8.55 p.m. The passengers
had quitted the train and proceeded to the steam packet, and the driver of
the train was in the act of disconnecting the engine from the dummy, when
the porter on duty called the attention of the fireman to the rapid approach
of the Grimsby train, and requested him to sound the whistle, which request
was promptly complied with, and the fireman also eased off his break, and
placed the engine in back gear ; at the same time that the porter ran towards
the coming train, showing a red light with his hand lamp.
The pier signal, to which allusion has already been made, and the distant
signal, are both stated to have been at "danger," prior to the Grimsby train
leaving New Holland Station for the pier. The evidence of the station-master,
station pointsman, and that of the man who placed it on, as soon as the Manchester
train got on the pier, leave no doubt on the subject, although the driver
of the Grimsby train denies it.
The Grimsby train appears to have arrived at New Holland Station at from
5 to 7 minutes after the Manchester had passed on to the pier, and after
stopping a short time at the station it followed it on to the pier about 9.9
p.m. The captain of one of the Company's steam vessels stood on the step of
one of the carriages as it proceeded, and he informed me that he saw the "red"
light of the distant signal immediately he got clear of the station, and
finding that the driver did not abate his speed, he jumped off about half-way
between the distant signal and the passenger shed, and shouted to the driver
of the Grimsby engine, as it passed him, to look at the "red" light.
It is stated that the speed of the Grimsby train, on passing the distant
signal 150 yards from the end of the passenger shed, (the spot at which the
collision occurred,) was from 8 to 10 miles an hour, and the fireman of
the Grimsby engine says that the steam was put on when they left New Holland
Station, that he does not know when it was shut off, and that when he heard
some one call out, he immediately applied his break, before the whistle of
the Manchester train engine was heard. A slight collision immediately afterwards
occurred between the leading carriages of the Grimsby train and the standing
engine of the Manchester train, by which three passengers were shaken and
bruised, and three carriages and the break van were damaged.
The driver of the Grimsby train was prosecuted by the Company, convicted,
and fined 30s.
I am of opinion that this collision was entirely occasioned by the reckless
driving of the driver of the engine belonging to the Grimsby train, and I
see no reason to object to the Company's arrangements for securing the safety
of the public at the New Holland Station.
Captain Galton, R. E.
I have, &c.
Lieut, - Colonel, Royal Engineers.
Sidan uppdaterad den 14 juli 2006