a look at some
of the significant accidents that have occurred this century from the
run-up to Christmas to New Years Day
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Disasters at Christmas in
Since the beginning, the railways have had an important role during the Christmas period. Extra traffic has been generated by the numbers of people travelling to be with relatives and friends during the festivities. Freight, parcels and mail traffic has also seen a rise at this time as retail goods are shipped from warehouse to retail outlet and individuals exchange Christmas greetings cards. For the railway companies, this means additional revenue and for the workforce there is overtime.
But there is a certain
strain on working at a time of year, in the northern hemisphere at least
when weather conditions are less than ideal. It is a tribute to all those
involved in the operation of the railways that everything usually goes
as well as it does. There have however been a number of incidents at Christmas
that have led to tragedy. This feature takes a look at some of the significant
accidents that have occurred this century from the run-up to Christmas
to New Years Day.
- 1902, December
- Due to a misunderstanding between two officials, two trains entered the same single line section from opposite directions. The resulting head-on collision killed 28 people.
- 1906, December
29: Elliot Junction, Scotland
- Twenty-two people were killed when an express train ran into the back of another train during a blizzard.
- 1907, December
Cotta, Washington DC, USA
people were killed when two passenger trains collided. A stationmaster had incorrectly given a mail train the "Line Clear" after having previously accepted a train from the opposite direction.
- 1907, December
- Twenty-two people were killed when two passenger trains collided. A stationmaster had incorrectly given a mail train the "Line Clear" after having previously accepted a train from the opposite direction.
- 1910, December
- Christmas Eve, 1910 was a particularly bad time with no fewer than five accidents being recorded which involved loss of life . . .
- An error by a signalman sent two light engines off ahead of an express from London to Scotland. The resulting collision and fire caused the deaths of eight people.
- Bolsover England
- This was the second of two English accidents that night. It caused the deaths of 3 children when they were struck by a train while they were trying to cross the line by way of an open wicket gate at a level crossing.
- Upper Sandusky, Ohio, USA
- A collision on the Pennsylvania RR killed eight people.
- Montereau, France
- A collision on the Paris, Lyon & Mediterranee Railway between the Paris - Modane Express and a goods train resulted in the death of a sleeping-car attendant and injuries to 7 people.
- Marmande, France
- An accident on the Midi killed 20 people
- Arbanats (Bordeaux), France
- The Midi suffered a second disaster that night when the Toulouse express was stopped at Arbanats station because of the Marmande accident further down the line. The driver of an approaching train failed to respond to a danger signal and rammed the rear of the express.
- 1910, December 25: Chateaudun, France
- As if the three French accidents on Christmas Eve weren't enough, the Paris-Orleans
Railway was involved in an accident on Christmas Day. Six persons died when their horse-drawn carriage was struck by an express on a level crossing.
- 1917, December 12: Modane, France
- Although this disaster does not fall strictly within the time frame for this feature, it is included here by virtue of the fact that with over 800 killed it was the worst-ever railway accident and that it involved troops who were returning home from the front on Christmas leave.
- 1933 December 23:
worst ever railway accident involved France's largest steam locomotive
when it crashed at speed into the rear of a train standing in
the station. The driver of the Paris - Strasbourg express failed
to heed several adverse signals as he strove to make up to make
up lost time. The locomotive, a 4-8-2 (241) struck the standing
train at a speed of approximately 60 mph reducing the wooden coaches
to matchwood. Two hundred and thirty people died and 300 were
- 1938, December
- Ninety three
people killed and 147 injured when a troop train and a local train
were in head-on collision on a single track line.
- 1941, December
27: Frankfurt on Oder, Germany/Pznan, Poland
people were killed when the Berlin-Warsaw express ran into the
rear of a stationary train.
- 1941, December
28: La Gourge France
- A total
of 56 people were killed and 50 injured in a collision on the
now national railway of France SNCF. The accident occurred on
the Nantes-La Roche-sur-Yon line.
- 1941, December
30: Hazebrouck, France
- Fifty people
killed in a disaster near Hazebrouck
- 1942, December
27: Almonte, Ontario, Canada
people were killed and over 200 injured when a troop train ran
into the the rear of a passenger train which was just pulling
out of Almonte station.
- 1944, December
- The second
part of the Pacific Limited crashed into the rear of the first
on a foggy evening. The driver of the second part suffered a heart
- 1946, January 1:
- A fish train
collided with the rear of a local passenger train which was standing
in the station. Freezing weather conditions and a misread danger
signal contributed to the accident in which 20 people were killed
and 22 injured
- 1953, December
24: Walouru, New Zealand
- The eruption
of the volcano, Mt Ruapehu was the cause of this tragedy which
killed 151 people.
- 1953, December
25: Sakvice, Czechoslovakia
- A local
train was standing in Sakvice station when the Prague - Bratislava
express train collided with it. One hundred and eighty-six people
- 1958, January 1:
- Thirty two
people were killed and 85 injured in a collision in thick fog
at Mohri station. A local train from Ambala to Delhi collided
with the Delhi - Pathankot express which was standing in the station.
- 1963, December
24: Szolnok, Hungary
- A collision
between two trains caused the deaths of 45 people. The driver
of one of the trains was held to be culpable and received a prison
sentence of eleven years.
- 1969, December
31: Theis, Senegal
- More than
20 people were killed in a collision between a goods train and
a Dakar - St. Louis pasenger train.
- 1987, December
- This was
a deliberate act of sabotage rather than an accident. A special
train was taking around 1,500 migrant workers home from South
Africa when it was attacked by guerilla fighters. They had set
a landmine which derailed the train. More than 22 people were
killed and 71 injured.
Following the derailment, the guerillas opened fire on the train.
They also abducted a number of the passengers.