Train Crash: A long history of carnage on the network

Disasters on Britain's railways have occurred with grim regularity. The Southall crash takes the toll over the last 10 years to some 70 dead and more than 700 injured. Stephen Goodwin reports.
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The Independent Online
For sheer carnage, no rail crash matches the horror of the triple collision at Quintinshill, Dumfries and Galloway, on 22 May 1915, when 227 people died.

A 213-yard-long troop train was telescoped to less than a third of its length. Two signalmen were sentenced for manslaughter.

Yesterday's tragedy occurred on the same line and little more than two miles from the scene of a crash in 1973 which killed 10 people and injured 94.

An express train from Paddington to Oxford was derailed at Ealing - the crash was blamed on an open battery-box door, which hit a signalling control box.

The country's second-worst crash was at Harrow and Wealdstone, north London, in October 1952, when 112 people were killed and 340 hurt. Two express trains collided and a third ran into the wreckage on an adjoining line. Fifteen years later, 49 people were killed in a crash at Hither Green, south London.

More recently, 36 people were killed and more than 100 injured in a triple collision at Clapham Junction, Britain's busiest rail intersection, in south London, on 12 December 1988. A rush-hour express from Bournemouth slammed into the back of stationary commuter service.

As passengers scrambled out, a third train ploughed into the wreckage. A signalling fault was blamed.

A rapid succession of tragedies followed. In March 1989, five people died and more than 90 were injured when two trains collided outside Purley station, in Surrey.

Two days later, two people died and 52 were injured in a two-train collision on a single-track line at Glasgow Bellgrove station. In August the same year, a driver was killed and 35 people injured at Stafford when an empty train ran into the back of the Manchester-to-Penzance express. Four months later, 15 people were injured when two InterCity expresses collided at Newcastle.

More than 240 were injured and two killed in January 1991 when a packed commuter train demolished the buffers at Cannon Street station and soon afterwards four people died and 22 were injured in a head-on collision at Newton station, near Glasgow.

In October 1994, five people were killed and 11 injured when two passenger trains collided in fog on a single line at Cowden, Kent. And in August last year one woman was killed and 69 people injured when two trains crashed head-on outside Watford Junction station.

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