Traffic was unusually heavy at Quintinshill on the morning of 22 May, 1915, when Tinsley arrived at 6.30am and began his copying while Meakin read the newspaper. A local passenger train and two freight trains were already parked on three of the four tracks outside. A troop train was heading from the north, a Scotch express from the south. Tinsley and Meakin stopped neither, forgetting they had only one clear line. The troop train smashed at speed into the stationary local. The express then ploughed into the wreckage. The carriages were lit by gas. The blaze lasted 24 hours. Of the 227 dead, 215 were men of the Royal Scots regiment. Another 245 people were seriously injured. It remains the worst accident in British railway history.
The techniques of a signaller's job have changed since then, but the duty remains the same. Neglect of it, distraction from it, can have terrible consequences. According to their union, signallers on the lowest grade earn on average only about pounds 2.50 a week more than a supermarket check-out operator; some are paid less than carriage cleaners. You would not have to be Jimmy Knapp (or a Christian Socialist) to think this order of things wrong.Reuse content