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Gare Montparnasse, Paris 1895


Compagnie de l'Ouest, 22nd October 1895 : One person was killed when the Granville - Paris Express overan the buffers at Gare Montparnasse.

Paris Montparnasse 1895
The Granville - Paris Express nose dived into the street after overunning the buffer stop at Gare Montparnasse.
The Granville - Paris Express was carrying 131 passengers as it approached its destination, Montparnasse Station in Paris. The train was in the charge of locomotive No. 721, a 2-4-0 (type 120 in the French style of notation) and was being driven by Guillaume-Marie Pellerin.The train was made up of twelve vehicles. Two luggage vans and a postal van were coupled behind the locomotive. There followed eight passenger carriages and another luggage van coupled at the the rear. There were 131 passengers

The train had left Granville left at its usual time of 0845 but was running several minutes late for its arrival time of 1555. Driver Pellerin was an experienced man having worked for the railway for 19 years. Although he was understandably anxious to make up the lost time, he would have been well aware of the rule that forbade drivers to use the Westinghouse brake to bring trains to a halt at Gare Montparnasse. On this occasion however, he guided his train at speed into the station. He attempted to apply the Westinghouse brake, but it failed to operate. He was left with only the locomotives brakes to stop the train. But owing to the speed and the weight of the train, these were inadequate for the task. The two conductors on board realised that they were entering the station at a speed which was too high to stop safely. One of them at least, Albert Mariette was pre-occupied at this time. Although he should perhaps have been alert to the situation of the train, he was instead concentrating on completing his paperwork. It was at the last moment that he realised the train's plight and he attempted to apply the handbrake. He had barely begun to turn the handle when the locomotived ploughed through the buffer stop.

The engine careered across almost 100 feet (10Metres) of the station concourse, crashed through a two feet (0.6m) thick wall, across a terrace and sailed out of the station as it plummeted onto the street 30 feet (9m) below. This was the Place de Rennes which carried the tramway between the station and Place de l'Etoile. The falling locomotive just missed hitting one of the trams.

The front three vehicles were extensively damaged, but all the passenger carriages remained on the track. There were only five serious injuries amongst those travelling on the train. These were two passengers, the fireman and the two conductors. However, a woman bystander in the street was killed and another was injured.

Driver Pellerin and Conductor Mariette were both prosecuted. The driver was found guilty by virtue of having driven the train too fast. He was fined 50 francs and sentenced to two months imprisonment. He was not however required to serve the term of imprisonment. Mariette was also at fault for not having applied the Westinghouse brake himself. He was fined 25 francs.

Newsvendor killed

The woman who was killed was struck by a falling piece of masonary. She was Marie-Augustine Aguilard and was standing in for her husband, a newspaper vendor while he went to collect the evening papers. The railway company paid for her funeral and provided a pension to care for their two children.

The station at Montparnasse New Gare Pic of new Gare

montparnasse counter

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Copyright David Fry 1998

This file last updated: Wednesday, 19-May-1999 18:17:09 EDT