IGNITING THE FLAME OF UNITY


THE HISTORY OF THE


BRIGHTON BRANCH OF A.S.L.E.F.

 

 

Click on the icon above for

the Brighton Motive Power Depots

Click on the icon above for

the Sussex Motive Power Depots & ASLEF Branches

THAMES TUNNEL


21st SEPTEMBER 1885


INVOLVING EX NEW CROSS DRIVER DRIVERS FRANK OSBORNE 


& NEW CROSS DRIVER JOHN QUICKENDEN


Extracted and adapted from the Ministry of Department Report by

C.S. HUTCHINSON Major General, R. E.

An accident which occurred ou· the 21st September in the 'l'hames tunnel, on the East London Railway. In this case, as the 

Metropolitan District Company's 12.10 a.m. empty carriage train from New Cross for West Kensington was passing through the 

Thames tunnel, the wheels of the engine and of the nine carriages composing the train left the rails at point about 145 yards 

from the Wapping (or north) end of the tunnel, tlw engine stopping in about 115 yards from this point. '

No personal injuries were sustained.


The engine, which inclined to the right after leaving the rails, grazed along the wall 
separating the up and down tunnels for 

some distance aud was considerably damaged ; the carriages were also all more or less damaged.

Two rails were broken, others were bent, and several chairs were broken.


Description.

When the Thames tunnel was first used for a railway in the year 1869, the permanent-way consisted of flat-bottomed rails 

secured to longitudinal sleepers. About the year 1875 these rails were replaced by double-headed steel rails in 21 feet lengths, 

weighing 78 lbs. to the yard, secured by outside keys in two-holed cast-iron chairs weighing 25 lbs. each. The chairs were 

fastened to the old longitudinal timbers, which measured about 13 or 14 inches wide and 7 inches thick, by hollow trenails and 

spikes, there being eight chairs to each rail. The longitudinals were tied to gauge by transoms and flat bars of iron at 10 feet 

intervals. 'l'he spike holes in the chairs were 10 inches from centre to centre, so that where the longitudinals were only13 inches 

wide, there was a distance of only 1 1/2 inches between the centre of a spike and the outside edge of a longitudinal.

Up to August 31st last the London, Brighton, and South Coast Company had maintained the permanent-way of the East London 

Railway (which is now worked by the joint committee of six leasing companies), but on the 1st September the South-eastern 

Company took over the maintenance. Up to the end of September 1884 the traffic through the tunnel had been comparatively 

light; but in October 1884 the Metropolitan and District Companies commenced to run a frequent service of passenger trains, 

driven by bogie tank engines, weighing about 45 tons on a wheel base of about 19 feet. Before this new traffic was commenced 

a report on the state of the permanent-way was made by the engineers of one of the leasing companies and of the East London 

Railway, and the report contained nothing prohibitory to the running of the new traffic. The question as to the sufficiency of the 

permanent way in the Thames tunnel was also at the same time raised between the engineers of the Metropolitan and District 

Companies and of the Brighton Company, but no action was taken in consequence.

Rotherhithe station is approached from New Cross on a falling gradient of 1 in 80; through the station the line falls at 1 in 300 

for 4 1/2 chains, and then in the tunnel at 1 in 40 for 12 chains, is level for 3 chains, then rises towards Wapping at 1 in 46 for 

7 1/2 chains, and continues to rise through Wapping station at 1 in 300 for 3 1/2 chains. Absolute block working is in force, the 

distances between the signal-cabins being, from New Cross to Deptford Road 1 mile 22 chains, from Deptford Road to 

Rotherhitbe 43 chains, and from Rotherhithe to Wapping 26 chains.


Evidence.

1 John Gatford, signalman, 13 years in railway service, 4 1/2 years signalman, and since September 1st in the service of the East 

London Committee. I came on duty in Rotherhithe cabin at 6 p.m. on Sunday, 20th September, to remain till 6 a.m. on the 21st. 

I work block system between Deptford Road on one side and Wapping on the other. The instruments are Tyer’s one wire 

instruments. I keep a train register. I received “Be ready” for the 12.10 a.m. empty train from New Cross at 12.16, and the train 

passed Deptford Road at 12.19. I gave it on “Be ready” to Wapping at 12.16. It passed at 12.20, and at the same time I cleared 

back to Deptford Road and gave on the train to Wapping. I did not observe that the train was running faster than empty trains 

usually run at this spot. I heard the noise of the accident in the tunnel about 12.22. It was raining. My signals were off for the 

train.

2. Sydney W. Nicholas, signalman, eight in railway service, six years signalman. In the service of the East London Joint 

Committee since September 8th. I came on duty in Wapping cabin at 6 p.m. on the 20th, to remain till 6 a.m. on the 21st. I work 

block system between Rotherhithe and Shadwell. I keep a train register. I got the “Be ready” for the 12.10 a,m, empty train from 

New Cross at 12.17 a.m., and “On line” at 12.19 a.m. I took my signals off for the train, and on receiving “Train on line” from 

Rotherhithe I threw up my up slow distant signal, which is a slot on the Rotherhithe starting signal, and as I was looking round 

for the train  I saw a white light, and then heard a noise about 12.20 a.m. I then heard the guard shouting, and seeing that the 

train had stopped in the tunnel I blocked the line to Rotherhithe, threw my signals to danger, and went to the train. I think the 

engine was about 40 yards from the mouth of the tunnel. A mine is the usual time for empty trains or through trains between my

box and Rotherhithe. I do not think this time has been increased since the accident, but I have only been once on duty so as to 

know this since the accident. I never knew a goos train stick in the tunnel, but I have not had much experience as to this.

3. Frank Osborne driver. I have been 14 years in railway service, 12 months with the District Railway, 7 years fireman on the 

Brighton line, and driver 12 months on the District Railway. I was on duty on the 20th September from 09.50 a.m. till 11.10 

a,m, and then from 1.6 p.m. to 1.30 a.m. We have this day’s work only once in six months, the ordinary day’s work being about 

10 hours. On Sunday, 20th, I had been driving the same engine, No. 2, all day. It was a bogie engine, the bogie being at the 

leading end. We reached New Cross with my last train down train about 10.55 p.m., and I then remained there till the arrival of 

the last passenger train, which I had to take back to West Kensington. I started back at 12.16, six minutes late. Owing to the 

arrangements which have to be made at New Cross, the empty train is generally a little late in starting. I left New Cross, bunker 

in front, and a train of nine vehicles, all the wheels of the train and the coupled wheels of the engine being fitted with the 

Westinghouse non automatic pressure break, the working pressure being about 60 lbs. James Green, my fireman, was alone with 

me on the engine. After leaving New Cross the only signal I found against me was the Wapping distant signal, which is 

underneath the Rotherhithe home signal, which latter signal was off. I checked the train in consequence, but on finding the 

Rotherhithe starting signal off, I let the train go, and passed Rotherhithe cabin, with steam off, at a speed of 20 miles an hour. i 

had shut off steam at Canal Junction, 98 chains from Rotherhithe, and never put it on again. I had checked the train by slight 

application of the air break. I ran down the gradient in the tunnel without putting the break on, and at the bottom of the tunnel 

the speed would not have exceeded 25 miles an hour, when just as the engine entered on the ascending gradient I found the 

engine, which had been previously running steadily, suddenly jump at the bunker end, and lurch to the left; it then ran along the 

longitudinal for some distance and then seemed to veer to the right side of the tunnel, and came to a stand with all the right hand 

wheels on the outside of the right rail. The bottom of the right hand tank was close to the tunnel middle wall. On feeling the 

engine jump I immediately applied the air break with full force, having about 70 lbs of air. This took the speed out of the train 

unit the reservoir and pipes became broken. I believe the engine ran about a train’s length. I went back and saw where we had 

first run off, but I could not say positively whether the wheels had dropped between the rails or not. I could not say what the 

sudden jump was due to. On examination of the engine I found no springs apparently broken. I am not aware of any rule 

requiring restriction of speed in running through the tunnel. These had seemed for some time a soft spot where the engine 

lurched at about the same place on both up and don lines. I knew that the plate layers were often working at this spot. I saw 

platelayers at work at the time the accident occurred. I do not think the speed was more than that usual with empty trains. ‘l'he 

service time for this train is 14 minutes from New Cross to St. Marys, Whitechapel, miles 6 chains. The time of the accident. 

was, 1 believe, 12.23. I havc worked goods trains through the tunnel, the highest speed would have been perhaps 30 miles an 

hour; 25 waggons was the limit of the load. I have also worked troop trains with 16 carriages; in these cases we should wait at 

Shadwell, to get a clear run through the tunnel. I have never stuck with an empty train in the tunnel with the District Company. 

The highest speed with an empty train would be at Rotherhithe station. Had things gone right I should have put on steam after 

passing through Wapping. 

4. James Green, fireman, 4 1/2 years in the District Company service, three years fireman. I have been Osborne’s regular 

fireman since the beginning of June. I agree with his evidence. On shutting off steam at the top of the bank the speed was 20 to 

25 miles an hour, and this was reduced to 17 or 18 miles on the train being checked by the break; I think the speed nowhere 

exceeded 30 miles an hour. Before we ran off there was a jump to the right and then to the left, and then the wheels seemed to 

have dropped. Before the engine jumped to the left the driver put on his break. Before the jumps the engine began to shake, and 

I remarked the road is roughish. I was knocked from the break handle against the driver. I had been three times through the 

tunnel this day. I had not observed the road in the tunnel more shaky than usual. This gave rise to an oscillating motion. We 

have often talked about the roughness of the road. 

Driver Osborne recalled. I had always felt a nasty twist at the place close to where the engine ran off, a jerk. I felt this more or 

less for 12 months.

John Joiner, guard, six years in the District Company's service, and five years guard. I was guard in charge of the empty train on 

the morning othe 21st September. had arrived at New Cross at 11.57 p.m., and we started back a12:16 n.m., six minutes 

late, waiting for drivers, firemen, and. guards to.go back in the train apassengers. Engine No. 2 was attached to the train, 

which consisted of nine vehicles, viz., three second class, two first and four third class carriages, with break compartment at  

each end of the train. I was in the rear one, quite alone. The train was checked-by break by Deptford Road station, the speed

before this having been about 20 miles an hour, and on entering the Thames tunnel it may have been 20 or 23 miles an hour. The 

speed was never higher than this, and it never struck me abeing  higher than, usual. Finding the carriage shake about just us 

the line begins to rise towards Wapping made me think the train had left the rails. I jumped np to put on my break, but was 

knocked on the floor before I could do so and slightly injured. On getting up I went to the break, but could not get it on, but held 

on to the wheel until the train stopped. then got out and found that the engine and train had all left the metals. went to the 

driver first, and then ran back, putting down detonators, and went to Rotherhithe, and informed the signalman as to what

had happened. The three front coaches were leaning against the right wall of the tunnel, the others being upright. On the right-

hand side the raiwas pushed off the timber, and the wheels were between the timber and the rail, the axle-boxes resting on the 

rails. I did not notice the left side. Directly the train had come to rest I looked at my watch and found it 12.22, six minutes after 

starting. I saw no one hurt. I had often noticed the spot as being shaky before. Steam was shut off sat about Canal junction, the 

usual place. I had been five times in the tunnel that day on tho up line. I had felt the usual jar in passing the spot where the 

accident occurred. I know of no other place like it on the line. There is always a good deal of oscillation in the dip of the tunnel.

6. Clement. Bird, guard, five years in the District Company's service, 12 months guard. I was under guard on the 12.10 a.m. 

train ex. New Cross on the21st September. I was riding in the front break compartment next the engine. I was alone. After 

starting we attained the usual speed; we were checked at Rotherhithe, I suppose by the Wapping distant signal having been at 

danger. I do not know where steam was shut off. I did not notice any increase of speed after the check aRothcrhithe, and the 

first thing I noticed was my break jumping and throwing me against my break-wheel. I could not apply it, and when I recovered 

myself the train had come to a stand. The train remained coupled together. I did not notice my wheels outside any rails. I had 

been through on the up road three times that day. I had felt nothing to cause me alarm in the tunnel on that day, any more than 

on any other day.

7. William Fendick, permanent way inspector, 40 years in railway service, 33 years with the Great Eastern Company, 27 years 

permanent way inspector, and permanent way inspector on District Railway 4 1/2 years. I reached the Thames tunnejlwith the 

break down gang from Lillie Bridge at about 4.30 a.m. o the 21st September. Nothing had been done to the road when I got 

there. I found all the wheels of the engine and vehicles off the rails. The front of the engine was about 25 yards inside the 

Wapping end of the tunnel; the six coaches next it remained coupled to the engine, and to each other, but the rear coaches had 

been already removed. I went back towards Rotherhithe, and, about 145 yards from the Wapping mouth, I found where the right 

wheels of the engine had dropped on to the longitudinal inside the rail, chipping the ins jaws of the chairs and marking the 

longitudinal between them. The longitudinal were not much disturbed, but on the left side the rail was pushed outwards beyond 

the longitudinal, about three feet from the first mark, abruptly. On the right side the rail was pushed outwards parallel to the 

longitudinal for four feet and then was pushed abruptly towards the wall. This continued on the right till nearly to the front of 

the engine, but on the left, the left rail was in its place from the front of the engine to the leading wheels of the first coach. i saw 

no particular disturbance of the rail further back than 145 yards. The worst disturbance I found was the gauge being about 5/8 

inch slack, within 20 feet after which it became true. My opinion is that the road was too weak generally, the spikes being drawn 

or broken, ad the timbers giving away outside. I noticed no broken chairs at the commencement of the accident. The ground was 

no better at this spot than at any other point, and I did not observe any slack places in the longitudinal; I observed no rotten 

timber in the longitudinal. They were from 12 1/2 to 13 inches wide, the chair spikes being 10 inches from centre to centre. The 

fish plates close to the first mark were intact. The right wheels of the six coaches were inside the right longitudinal and left hand 

wheels outside the left. The transoms and tics were swept away. There were struts between the longitudinals and the tunnel wall. 

I believe the road was fairly well ballasted. I have ridden over the road before the accident, and had not noticed anything in the 

condition of the permanent way in the tunnel to call for report. It is possible the road might have been bulged by the previous 

train, an ordinary Brighton passenger train for Liverpool Street. I not find the road out of line behind the first mark up to within 

50 yards of the Rotherhithe end of the tunnel. I should not consider the road strong enough for the District stock.

James Wood, permanent way inspector, 20 years in the South eastern Company’s service, and five years permanent-way 

inspector; six years previously assistant inspector. On September 1st I took charge of the East London line between New Cross, 

Old Kent Road, and Shorediteh junction, the Brighton Company having previously maintained the line up to August 31st. The 

ganger and five platelayers in charge of the Thames tunnel length from Deptford Road junction to Wapping are the same as they 

were previously. Before the accident, and about a fortnight previously to taking charge, I walked over the line with the South- 

eastern Company's engineer, and he made the remark that it was rough road, and I said, "Yes, never saw one so rough us 

this;' and he said, ‘We shall have to start and strengthen it “ changing broken chairs, &c. Just before I took charge the Brighton 

Company had been repairing the up line in the tunnel, renewing transoms and putting in tics. The place where the accident 

occurred had not attracted my attention in particular. first heard of the accident about 2.30 a.m. on the 21st, and I got to the 

spot about 5.0 a.m. I walked into the tunnel from New Cross end. I met foreman plaelayer Trodd as I went in and walked on 

with him. Four rails’ lengths before the spot the spikes of the chairs of two rails were slightly drawn on the right hand side, and 

then two on the left hand side, and then came a mark on the longitudinals. The portion of the rails agrees with is stated by Mr. 

Fendick. I observed no particularly soft spot where the engine first left the rails. I at once took steps to repair the road, and an 

now engaged in completing the relaying of both lines in the tunnejlwith 82 lbs. steel rails, 31 1/2 ilbs cast iron chairs, 

rectangular creosoted sleepers 9ft. by 10 1/2 in. 5 in., 10 to each 24 ft. length, each chair being fixed by two hollow toenails and 

two 3/4 spikes. Trodd told me that the previous Sunday he had seen the same train go through at a speed, he thought, 60 miles 

an hour. My impression is that the accident was caused by high speed, combined with a weak road, not suitable for a speed of 

more than 40 miles an hour. I found 91 broken chairs in the down rod of the Thames tunnel on the first Sunday after taking 

charge; they were broken principally in the sole.

9. William Trodd, ganger, 18 years in the railway service.I have been ganger seven years on the East London Railway, about 6 

1/2 years from New Cross to Rotherhithe, including the Rotherhithe tunnel, and since March last have had charge from 

Deptford Road junction to London Docks, with a gang of five men. had last walked through the Thames tunnel up line on 

Sunday the 20th September, between and n.m., and the road then appeared in agood order as usual. am not aware that 

anything had been done at the spot where the run-off occurred for perhaps three weeks previously, when the longitudinals had 

been packed in the usual course. There was chairs having been found in the down line of the nothing specially difficult to keep 

in order at this spot. told Mr. Wood that there were a great many chairs broken on the down road in the tunnel, and I had told 

Mr. Elliott, the Brighton Company's inspector, of these broken chairs, the last week he had had charge. I cannot say how long 

ago these broken chairs had attracted my attention. had last replaced chairs on the down line after the accident in June, but 

none since then. The 91 broken chairs were found between the Rotherhithe end of the tunnel and the bottom of the tunnel. It 

was after taking out the rails from the chairs on the first Sunday after the South eastern Company and taken charge that I found

the 91 chairs broken I do not remember when first told Mr. Elliott about there being broken chairs in the down road. The up 

road had been repaired about two months before the Brighton Company's maintenance had ceased, but the down road had not 

been similarly treated since I had had charge. After the accident I got on t.he spot between and 3 a.m. From what I observed 

thought that the engine had lurched first to the right and then to the left, and burst the road at the third lurch, and thrown the rails 

to the outside toward the tunnel wall; there was no disturbance for more than two or three lengths of rails back from the first 

burst. The longitudinals had more or less kept their place, but some of the transoms and ties were displaced and cut and broken; 

two rails were broken, and several chairs. The Sunday night before I had observed an empty District train through the tunnel on 

the up line at great speed, and had made the remark that they would run off the road some time. Next morning I had not 

observed any consequences discernible on the road from this high speed. Goods trains run fast through the tunnel, perhaps as 

fast as the empty trains. I made no remark about the high speed except to my own gang. During the six months I have been in 

charge of the tunnel there has been a special gang looking after the tunnel.

10. James Woolmer, 12 years service in the Brighton Railway service. About last May I had charge of a special gang for 

renewing wooden transoms and iron ties in both up and down roads of the Thames tunnel, and I also replaced any broken chairs 

I came across. I had finished this work not later than June, and had not been at work in the Thames tunnel since. We did most 

work on the up line. I do not think we left one broken chair in either road. I have no recollection of putting in any struts between 

the longitudinals and the tunnel walls. The new iron ties and transoms were both stronger than the old ones. The repairs were 

generally done on Sunday night.

11 Richard Elliot, permanent way inspector, 20 years in the Brighton Company’s service, 10 years permanent way inspector; all 

the time in charge of the East London Railway till 31st August. Just before I took charge double headed rails and chairs had 

been substituted for flat bottomed rails in the Thames tunnel. I had been last through the tunnel on the 31st August. On 29th 

August ganger Trodd had told me that there were two or three broken chairs on the down line; he had said nothing about these 

previously. I told him that he had better inform the South-eastern people, as there would be no time to get the notice in for 

repairing them the next Sunday. There was on the 31st only the ordinary work of packing, &c.going on in the tunnel. Where the 

accident took place was not a bad spot, and no special attention had had to be devoted to it. About seven or eight weeks before 

the 31st August, the rails on the up line had been removed, and a few broken chairs found, but no great quantity. This had been 

done in consequence of the ganger reporting some chairs being broken. The same thing had not been done on the down line for 

some time previously. I think Woolmer’s evidence as to there being no broken chairs in the down line when he left the tunnel in 

July (not June as he stated), is correct. I cannot account for 91 broken chairs having been found in the down line of the tunnel on 

the rails being removed when the South eastern Company took charge. I have found Trodd a good man, but he certainly ought to 

have known of this large number of broken chairs in the down line. I cannot account for this large number of broken chairs, and 

I am very much surprised to hear of it. Since the increased traffic began to run though the Thames tunnel on the 30th September 

1884, it has been hard work to keep the road in the tunnel in line. But I had not seen tendency of the spikes of the chairs to split 

the longitudinal on the outside. I attribute the difficulty of keeping the road straight to the oscillation of the Metropolitan and 

District engines when running chimney first. I have had reports from the Metropolitan Company about the roughness of the 

down road in the tunnel. This, I believe, was soon after the new traffic began running. I remember going through the tunnel with 

Mr. Parry and Mr. Wood about a week before the 31st August, with extra lights, when we made a minute inspection. No remark 

was made by Mr. Wood, except that when he had gone through with Mr. Brady a few day previously he had found the down 

road not quite straight, but that it was now better; Trodd then said nothing about broke chairs. Soon after the new traffic began 

running about 18 additional men were put on in the five miles, there having been 12 previously, and I could have had more had 

1 thought it needful. When we gave up maintenance there were 18 men in charge, more being employed the necessary.

Trodd recalled. Some time since I was called to ride on the engine of a train from Wapping to Rotherhithe in consequence of a 

rough place reported by drivers. I did not observe anything particular, nor did the driver. There was a bit of a shake somewhere 

about the middle. I made no examination afterwards, not thinking it bad enough to need it.

12. John Quickenden, driver, 11 years in the Brighton Company’s service, and 3 1/2 years driver. I was driver of the 10.50 p.m. 

train from Peckham Rye to Liverpool street on September 20th. I stopped at Rotherhithe and was running at a speed of about 10 

miles at the bottom of the tunnel. I felt nothing unusual in the state of the road at that stop, nor have I on previous occasions. I 

have noticed no difference between the running on the up and down roads in the tunnel. My engine was one of the Terrier Class, 

not weighing very heavy.

13 Henry Pitt, guard, 2 1/2 years in the Brighton Company’s service, guard a year. I was the only guard of the 10.50 p.m. train, 

Peckham Rye to Liverpool Street, on September 20th. The train consisted of seven vehicles all fitted with the Westinghouse 

break. I was in the rear break compartment. I noticed nothing unusual in the running of the train between Rotherhithe and 

Wapping. The speed at the bottom of the tunnel would be about 10 miles an hour. I have never noticed any particular roughness 

in either tunnel.


Conclusion


The occurrence of this accident must be attributed to high Speed on a light road unsuited for high speeds, especially with tank 

engines of the heavy character employed in working the traffic on the Metropolitan and District Railways, which engines have 

for the past year been running through the Thames tunnel.

The train in question was an empty train of nine vehicles, drawn by an eight-wheeled tank engine (with a bogie at the leading 

end); running coal bunk in front, returning from New Cross to West Kensington, not stopping, consequently, at any stations in 

the ordinary course. The driver states that he had shut off steam about 98 chains from the Rotherhithe end of the Thames tunnel 

and lmd never reapplied it ; that his speed at the .tunnel mouth was about 20 miles an l10ur, and that be ran down the gradient of 

1 in 40 without any application of the break, the speed at the bottom not exceeding 25 miles an hour; that on entering on the 

ascending gradient the engine, which had been previously running steady, began to jump and lurch and then left the rails, upon 

which he applied the non-automatic pressure break (which was fitted throughout the whole train) and stopped in about the 

train’s length, with the engine and the three front carriages leaning against the centre wall of the tunnel, and the six rear ones off 

the rails but upright, no couplings having given way. - ‘The other evidence as to s_peed, &c. agrees more or less with that of 

the driver; if, however, the .latter is correct in stating that the speed was about 20 miles an J10ur on· entering the tunnel, it must 

have been at least double that speed at the bottom of the incline of 1 in 40, no break having been applied.

The evidence as to the condition of the permanent-way shows that marks of rail disturbance, first: to the right and then to the 

left, occurred for four rail-lengths before any wheels had ]eft the tails; then came wheel marks on the longitudinals, the left 

rail being pushed outwards abruptly about 3 feet from the first mark, the right rail being also pushed outwards, but less 

abruptly in the first instance; the rails were then thrown outwards towards the tunnel walls till the engine stopped in about 115 

yards from where it had left the rails; the  longitudinal timbers were but little disturbed, but the chair spikes had, in many 

instances, split off the outside edges of the longitudinals; and several of the transoms and ties were swept away.

A permanent-way of the description in question, consisting of steel rails originally 78 lbs. to the yard (but deteriorated by wear 

to only 66 lbs. to the yard), secured in 25-lb. chairs, fastened by two spikes and trenails in each chair to longitudinal timbers 13 

or 14 inches wide by 7 inches thick, the chairs being at an average central interval of 2 feet 7 1/2 inches, was certainly far too 

light a one for the running over it. at high speed of heavy engines of the class employed by the Metropolitan and District 

Railway Companies, and the fastenings of. the chairs to the longitudinals was specially unsatisfactory, as it left only from 1 1/2 

inches to 2 inches between the centre of the spike holes and the edges of the longitudinals, affording hut very poor resistance to 

pressure outwards arising from oscillation or any other cause.

It was, I think, a mistake to have allowed the heavy engines, which commenced running about a year since, to work through the 

tunnel with this weak road, unless, at any rate, special instructions had been issued for the observation of a very limited speed, 

which precaution does not seem to have been adopted.

Since the accident the South-eastern Company have been engaged in relaying both lines of the tunnel with a new permanent-

way of a much heavier character than the old one, cross sleepers being substituted for longitudinal ones. The speed also has 

been restricted to 15 miles an hour.

Too much attention cannot be bestowed upon keeping in a high state of efficiency the permanent-way In so dangerous a part of 

the line as the Thames tunnel; it is therefore most unsatisfactory to learn from the evidence of the South-eastern Company

permanent;.way inspector that shortly after taking over charge of the East London line from the London, Brighton, and South 

Coast Company on the 1st Sep­tember, be found no less than 91 broken chairs on the down line between the bottom of the 

tunnel and the Rotherhithe end of it, i.e., in a distance of about 265 yards, in which distance there would be about 600 chairs. It 

appears that both lines had been thoroughly overhauled by a special gang of men in July last, and that the chairs must have been 

broken between that time and the beginning of September. The negligence of the ganger in charge in not having detected this 

serious state of things is most reprehensible, for although without removing the rails it might have been difficult, it was by no 

means impossible, to ascertain whether chairs were or were not broken. All that he had apparently done was on the 29th August 

to call his inspector's attention to the fact that there were two or three broken chairs in the tunnel on the down line.

As it is very undesirable that high speed should be attained in the Thames tunnel, I would suggest that unattached engines and 

non-stopping trains should be brought to a stand at Wapping and Rotherhithe before being allowed to enter the tunnel.

Click on the icon above for

the Brighton Motive Power Depots

Click on the icon above for

the Sussex Motive Power Depots & ASLEF Branches

 

Make a free website with Yola