IGNITING THE FLAME OF UNITY

THE HISTORY OF THE

 BRIGHTON BRANCH OF A.S.L.E.F.

  

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REIGATE GOODS STATION

1st NOVEMEBER 1852

EXTRACTED & ADAPTED FROM THE REPORT BY

GEO. WYNNE CAPT ROYAL ENGINEERS 

W. Yolland L.t.- Colonel, R. E.

This accident occurred on the 1st November, 1852,  at the Reigate goods station of the London, Brighton, and South Railway, on the 1st caused by passenger train running into a goods train.

The Reigate Junction station of the Brighton Company is situated about one mile south of Reigate station. As a goods station, which it exclusively is (no passenger trains stopping at it), it is one of considerable importance, the interchange of goods between the South Eastern Company and Brighton Company being conducted there. The accommodation which the station offers for conducting this interchange consists of sidings on each side of the line; that on the down side being about 530 feet in length. and that on the up side 600 feet. The station is protected by Station distant signals, and the working staff consist of a station clerk and two porters. Five goods trains, called “pick-ups,”stop at the station every day. These trains do not work to a timetable; there is a nominal hour for starting them from either terminus  of the line which it is stated is kept with tolerable punctuality. Sometimes, however, they are as much as an hour after time in starting, and the times of their arrival at Reigate station are most certain. The first train, which is a down one, is expected at Reigate between 4 and 5 a.m.; the second, which is an up train, is expected between 9 a.m and noon: the third, which is a down train is expected noon and 1.30 p.m.; the fourth, is an up train, expected between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m .; and the fifth, which is a down train, is expected between 8 p.m. and midnight.

The duties of the porters consists in loading and unloading goods accompanying goods which have to be transferred to the South Eastern Railway to the Reigate Junction, and also going there to assist in loading goods which are to be transferred to the Brighton. Railway. These last duties require the attendance of a porter at the junction three or four’ times day he rides up with the goods and walks back, the distance being about a mile.

The pick-up train, which caused the collision, was the second up train; it arrived at Reigate at 10 a.m., ; it  consisted, besides engine and tender, of thirty five trucks and might be about 640 feet in length; at the time of its arrival there were standing in the up siding twelve trucks. It stops at all the stations between Brighton and Reigate, six in number, and pick" up its load promiscuously; when it. arrives at Reigate the train has to be marshalled, the trucks being placed in the order they have to be left at the different stations; this operation occupies about three quarters of an hour; each train is accompanied by two guards, who assist in marshalling it. On the occasion in question, after the train had been partially arranged, the 10 a.m. down train was nearly due, as well as the parliamentary up train; it was necessary, therefore, to clear both main lines; neither of the sidings being sufficient separately to contain the whole of the pick-up train, part of it was shunted into the up siding, and remaining part, with the engine, into the down siding. When the two trains which were due had passed, the portion of the pick up train which was in the down siding was drawn on to the down main line, and the engine was sent with four of the trucks up the down line to a ballast siding, (which is within distant signal, which was turned on,) one of the porters accompanying it to open the points; the engine having: left, the trucks returned back and hooked on to the part of the train left standing on the down line. At.this time the up expres was a few minutes  overdue, and the signals for the up line were turned off, indicating that that line was clear for the express train, and necessarily stopped to the pick-up train, or anything else coming into itfrom a siding. The second porter, who was standing at the points leading from the down line to the up line, opened them about a minute before the express came in sight, whether at a signal from the driver of the pick-up train or not does not appear. but the engine and tender moved through the crossing, taking the train with them, and had just got on to the up line when the express ran into them; the express had left Brighton ten. minutes after time, and was about six minutes late in arriving at the Reigate goods station. 

The Circumstances of the collision were investigated by the magistrates at Reigate the following day, and the result was, that they committed to the House of Correction for two months the driver and the head guard, and the porter who opened the points.

The station and distant signals were standing as they should do when the accident occurred; there was, therefore, no excuse for either the porter turning open the points or for the  driver to go through them without first ascertaining that the line he was about to go on was closed; but, whilst admitting that the accident was directly due to the carelessness of the servants, there appears to me to be much in the management and arrangement of the station, as well as of the trains, which calls for remark.

1st. The siding accommodation, appears to be insufficient.

2d Although the actual amount of labour the porters have to perform may not be too heavy, yet the uncertainty in the arrival of the several trains, spreading as it does over a space of time varying from one hour and a half to four hours, and the circumstance of the frequent which or other of the porters has to pay to the Junction station a mile distant, renders the duties somewhat harrassing and distracting; and with a consideration of thtime which is involved in marshalling the train, would point out, that. attendance on signals and points should form exclusively duty of one man, who, having nothing else to attend to, would be less likely to become forgetful or confused; and an extra man, conceive; should therefore be appointed to the duty.

3d Working the pick-up trains without reference to time appears a most fatal error in the management, and has, on other lines, been a most fruitful source of accident; not only are the delays frequent on the road, but punctuality is not observed even in starting the trains, for which at least I think there should be no excuse. Trains which ar worked without regard to time, are liable to be overtaken at any of the stations by passenger trains, and as all station are provided with siding accommodation, it must frequently happen that the objectionable practice of shunting the train on to a down line to get it out of' the way must be resorted to, and this is always a source of great danger.

Whilst I thus strongly remark upon the great evil of running trains like these pick-up trains, am bound to state that the manager of the line has pointed out to me certain peculiarities to which the conduct of the traffic is subject, which renders the question of keeping time rather more complex problem than it is on other lines; it is one, however, which I am sure can be solved, and which has no important a bearing on safety that the Company cannot give the subject too much attention.

There is nothing to prevent punctually being strictly enforced in the passenger trains; the express train which ran into goods train on this occasion was six minutes late in arriving at the Reigate goods station, had it kept time the accident would not have occurred.

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