Derailment Investigation with R&DD
The author joined the Research Division of BR in 1974 working initially on technical investigations into freight train derailments. At this time there were still a large number of old 4-wheel wagons (e.g. 16 ton minerals, Vanfits etc) running on BR. We were usually called in by the local Area Manager if the cause of the derailment was not immediately apparent e.g. a broken axle
We had a car at our disposal loaded with equipment such as a theodolite and staff for track surveys, void meters, cant and gauge sticks, measuring tapes and a Polaroid camera (this was the pre-digital age). We were 'on-call' 24hrs a day and sometimes got a callout in the middle of the night and worked until the job was finished. The on-site work usually included a detailed survey of the track, both alignment and top level followed by a minute examination of the rolling stock. Numerous photos were taken and then the survey was plotted onto several graphs to show the state of the line compared to the ideal. On many occasions following our detailed investigations it became obvious where the cause lay, whether it be track or train.
Click on the picture for a bigger image - photos are the author's unless otherwise indicated
Some of the more interesting call outs however were to passenger train derailments.
At about 10.30 pm on the evening of 23rd January 1975 there was a derailment followed by a collision at Bushey, near Watford on the WCML, which resulted in one of the Class 86 locomotives involved finishing up at the bottom of a 50ft high embankment.
The cause was eventually found to be due to a couple of large steel pallets used for carrying Ford gearboxes from Dagenham to Halewood falling from a passing freight train and landing in the Up line. These were struck by a double-headed 12 coach southbound train, which had a class 83 loco piloting a class 86. The loco was derailed to the six foot side foul of the Down line and was struck a glancing blow by another Class 86 loco heading a night sleeper from Euston. The collision resulted in the northbound loco and first vehicle (a BG) being deflected down the embankment. Fortunately there were no passenger fatalities although the driver of the southbound train was killed.
Recovery of the locomotive took a long time and featured in the contemporary Modern Railways magazine of June 1975. Several of the sleeping cars were pushed down the bank to clear the line and were cut up on site. The site where the locomotive and BG ended up is now built upon.
Click on the picture for a bigger image
On 24th January the derailed southbound pilot locomotive 83003 stands where it was struck by the northbound loco.
The southbound train loco 86204 with its train stands on the Up line having been removed from the site.
Interestingly this loco was the first one the be fitted with Flexicoil suspension as E3173 was and used in the high speed tests on WCML in 1970-71
The northbound loco (86209) and a BG pictured where they ended up after the collision.
|The scene a few days later
- the loco and BG await recovery
M C Barker
|The cranes prepare to lift the
locomotive less bogies onto a low loader - the site was very difficult to get
to and a special military-style metal roadway had to be laid to gain access
|86209 is finally lowered onto the
Another investigation on August 7th 1975 took us to Elsecar Junction on the Manchester, Sheffield, Wath line. Here a class 76-hauled freight train had derailed on damaged pointwork but detective work revealed that a previous train 6M46 Wath to Fiddlers Ferry MGR's had also derailed, damaged the points then re-railed itself and carried on. After the on-site investigation I remember travelling across the Pennines to Dinting where we caught up with the culprit and proved the case by photographing the damaged wheelsets. The cause was revealed to be a combination of severely worn wheel flanges (for which MGR's were notorious) combined with a damaged switch on the pointwork. Here are a few pictures of the old MSW in August 1975.
|76057 runs light engine into the yard at Elsecar. Note the semaphore signals next to the overhead line. These were pneumatically operated.|
|The class 76 loco is later pictured hauling a coal train out of the yard at Elsecar Jcn|
|An 08 shunter hauls four dead class 76 electric locos - probably to the scrapyard.|
During my three year's involvement with derailment investigations I attended no less than 42 incidents. Here is a list with details of the stock where remembered.
|23/4/74||Meopham SR||15ft wheelbase tankers||Empty tanks 'bounced off'|
|24/4/74||Great Bridgeford LMR||16T mineral wagons||Badly loaded|
|23/5/74||Verney Junction LMR||16T mineral wagons||Track irregularity|
|28/5/74||Althorp Park LMR||Northampton loop|
|29/5/74||Gloucester Central WR|
|14/6/74||Renishaw Park ER|
|2/10/74||Halling SR||16T mineral wagons|
|14/10/74||Lincoln Pelham Street ER|
|1/11/74||Crewe Gresty Lane LMR|
|9/12/74||Northorpe (Lincs) ER|
|14/1/75||Crewe Basford Hall LMR||100T tanker||Damaged pointwork|
|23/1/75||Watford Jcn (Bushey) LMR||Passenger trains||Derailed on obstruction +|
|25/2/75||Polesworth LMR||Hyfit open|
|27/2/75||Doleham Halt SR||16T mineral wagons|
|6/3/75||Blackhall Rocks ER|
|19/3/75||Blackmoor Crossing ER|
|10/4/75||Doncaster Bridge Junction ER|
|21/4/75||Waterloo & City Line||ECS||Worn point rails- incorrect tyre profiles|
|9/6/75||Merstham Tunnel SR|
|8/7/75||Norton Bavant SR||15ft wheelbase tankers||Empty tanks 'bounced off' through pitching|
|21/7/75||Oakenshaw/Royston Junction ER||16T mineral wagons|
|7/8/75||Elsecar Junction ER||MGR hoppers||Worn flanges/damaged pointwork|
|10/9/75||Wadsley Bridge ER|
|31/10/75||Temple Mills Yard ER|
|9/12/75||Bishop Middleham (Ferryhill)||Hydrochloric Acid tanker||Derailed due to track defects *|
|9/1/76||Mickle Trafford LMR||10ft WB Vanfit||Rolled off due to track defects|
|12/2/76||Ryhope Grange ER|
|16/2/76||Hunslet Oil terminal ER||4 wheel oil tanker|
|10/3/76||Gateshead KE Bridge ER|
|25/3/76||Helm Tunnel LMR|
|7/4/76||Salfords Oil terminal SR||100T tankers|
|8/4/76||Linslade Tunnel LMR|
|13/5/76||Newton Aycliffe ER|
|13/7/76||Shap Summit LMR||45t tanker|
for the MOT Accident Report - look at
Appendix A of the official statement by Mike McLoughlin for my name!
* See here for the MOT Accident Report
More pictures and info will be added as time permits
Back to main index