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  EAST CROYDON STATION

10th JULY 1909

Involving Eastbourne Enginemen 

Driver Charles Elvey & his Fireman Thomas Hyde


extracted and adapted from the report by
P.G. Von Donop Lt.-Col., R.E.




 


On the 10th July, 1909, at about 6.50 a.m., a collision took place between a train of empty carriages and a light engine, at East Croydon. The 6.30 a.m. empty carriage train from New Cross, consisting of an engine and nine vehicles, was approaching East Croydon station on the down relief line, it ran past the home signal when it was at danger and came into collision with a pilot engine which was engaged in carrying out shunting operations near the north end of the station.

The pilot engine, which was nearly at rest at the time of the collision, was driven back a distance of 100 yards, where it came to rest with one pair of wheels off the line; it was considered damaged, and the driver and fireman of it received injuries, to which the former succumbed. The engine of the empty carriage train, which came to rest close to the pilot engine, was also considerably damaged, and the driver and fireman of it were slightly injured. The two front vehicles of the train were very seriously damaged, being telescoped together, and four of the vehicles in rear of these were slightly damaged.

The engine of the empty carriage train was a four wheels coupled tank engine, with a leading bogie and one pair of railing wheels, and it was running chimney first at the time of the collision. It was fitted with the Westinghouse automatic brake working blocks on the four coupled wheels and on the wheels of the leading bogie; it was also fitted with the hand brake, working blocks on the four coupled wheels.

The vehicles of the train were fitted with the Westinghouse automatic brake working blocks on all the wheels of the eight wheeled carriages and on four wheels of the six wheeled saloon. 

The pilot engine was a six wheels coupled side tank engine, with one pair of trailing wheels. It was fitted with the Westinghouse automatic brake working on the six wheels, and with the hand brake working the same blocks. It was the bunker end of this engine with which the front of the engine of the empty carriage train came into collision.

 

DESCRIPTION

There are several passenger lines running through East Croydon station in direction which are approximately north and south, but the only one of these lines which is concerned in this accident is the down relief line, which lies on the east side of the station; down train run through the station in a southerly direction, and there is a station platform on the west side of the down relief line.

The signals for entering the station on this line are controlled from the north signal box, which is situated 110 yards to the north of the north end of the station platform, and slightly to the west of the down relief line. The next signal box in the up direction is the Windmill Bridge Junction signal box, situated about 800 yards to the north of it. The home signal for entering East Croydon station on the down relief line is fixed on a gantry, situated 120 yards to the north of the north signal box, and there is a distant signal situated 583 yards to the north of the home signal. Owing to the line being on a curve the driver of an engine on the down relief line does not obtain a view of his home signal until he has reached a point distant 250 yards from it.

The gradient for a train approaching East Croydon station from Windmill Bridge Junction is a slightly rising one of 1 in 287 the whole way between the two above mentioned points.

There are the following connections on the don relief line which are concerned with this accident:-

a) A trailing connection, situated 170 yards ahead of the home signal: this connection leads to sidings lying on the east side of the line, which are known as Hall’s Sidings. The points of this connection are worked by lever No.31, and the ground discs for entering and leaving the siding ate worked by levers Nos. 32 and 30 respectively.

b) A facing connection, situated 200 yards ahead of the down home signal, leading to a siding lying on the east side of the down relief line, which is generally known as the Back Road. The points for working this connection are worked by lever No.40, and the ground discs for entering and leaving it are worked by leaving Nos. 38 and 41 respectively.

The usual interlocking is provide between the lever working the down home signal and the levers working the points of these connections.

The empty carriage train concerned in this accident was entering the station on the down relief line, and it was due to stop at the station platform. The pilot engine, which had been carrying out shunting operations in the station, was at the time of the collision running from the back road into Hall’s sidings, and the collision occurred almost exactly at the trailing points on the down relief line leading to those sidings.

The following are extracts from the Company’s General Regulations for the working of the Westinghouse automatic brake:-

“Engine drivers must satisfy themselves that the Westinghouse brake is in proper working order before starting, and at each station where the engine is changed, or where any vehicle is attached or detached. It must also be tested before descending steep inclines, and before passing the distant signal of any terminus or other principal station, or a crossing station on a single line at which the train has to stop, and the speed of the train must be reduced by it.”

“Unless the Westinghouse brake is working properly when thus tried, the engine driver must whistle for the guard’s hand brake, stop the train, and inform the guard the Westinghouse brake is out of order, and that the hand brake must be relied upon for working the train. Special care must then be taken in approaching stations at which the train has to stop.”

“Engine drivers are responsible for the brake couplings between the engine and the first vehicle of the train being properly connected, and for seeing that the corresponding cocks in the main brake pipe are open. Immediately before the engine is attached to a train, the air on the engine must be raised to full pressure, and when the engine has been attached to the train (and also whilst standing at stations) the driver must keep his handle in th feed position, so that whatever reductions are made by attaching, or the guard testing the tran, he may be able to release the brakes when he gets the signal to start.”

 

 Charles Elvey, driver, states : I have been for 28 years in the service of the Company, during 17 of which I have been employed as a driver. I came on duty on the 10th July at 2.30 a.m. to work till about 9 a.m. I came off duty on the previous day at 12 mid-day. 1 was the driver of the 6.30 a m. empty carriage train from New Cross to East Croydon. My train was an excursion one running from East Croydon to Eastbourne and was due to leave East Croydon at 6.47 am. I picked up the vehicles of my train at New Cross with the object of bringing them to East Croydon. We left New Cross at 6.33am. My engine was a four-wheels-coupled tank engine with a leading bogie and one trailing pair of wheels. It was fitted with the Westinghouse automatic brake working blocks on the four coupled wheels and on the four wheels of the leading bogie, and with a hand brake working the blocks on the four coupled wheels. The train was also fitted with the Westinghouse automatic brake worked from the engine. After leaving New Cross we did not stop anywhere until the collision occurred. Shortly after leaving New Cross, on account of a disc signal being against me I applied the automatic brake slightly, but not sufficient to feel that it affected the train. Before leaving New Cross I did not test the Westinghouse automatic brake in any way, and as far as I know the guard did not do so either. I am aware of the rule that engine drivers must satisfy themselves that the Westinghouse brake is in proper order before starting, but did not carry out this rule because 1was engaged in oiling my engine. I am not aware of any rule stating that the brake must be tested before passing the distant signal of any principal station. I remember passing Windmill Bridge Junction. All the signals at that junction were lowered for me. I am acquainted with the signals of the East Croydon north signal box. We were entering East Croydon on the down relief line. There is a home and distant signal for this line worked from the East Croydon north signal box. The distant signal was at danger when I passed it. The home signal was at clanger too. I saw that signal as soon as it was possible for me to observe it coming round the curve. The moment I saw the home signal at danger I reversed my engine, steam having been previously turned off. The automatic brake was at this time applied to the train. It had been applied previous to my entering the relief line from the main road. I estimate our speed when I sighted the home signal at about 15 miles an hour. I think I had run through Windmill Bridge Jnncsion on to the down relief line at a slightly higher speed. Before sighting the home signal at danger I had noticed that my train was not reducing speed as quickly as it should, and on that account I applied the automatic brake fully. Before we sighted the home signal at danger I had intimated to my mate that there was something wrong with the automatic brake and he accordingly applied the hand brake. After seeing the home signal at danger I took no more steps beyond reversing my engine, as there was nothing more that I could do. I assert positively that at this time both the Westinghouse brake and the hand brake were fully applied. I could not feel that the brakes had any effect on the train up to the time we reached the home signal, and I knew that I was running past that home signal at danger. I cannot say whether the guard had got the hand brake applied at his end of the train or not. I did not whistle to him to apply it. I did not do so because I was so much excited and disturbed to know what would be the result of my running past the home signal was only a very short distance from the pilot engine when. We first saw it, and I can scarcely say what our speed was at the time the collision occurred. I generally test the brakes of m y train before starting on my journey, and the only reason I can give for not having done so on this occasion was that I was oiling my engine and that the time was very short. As far as I can say the engine war coupled to its vehicles at New Cross between 6.10 and 6.15 a.m. After the collision I found the tap of the Westinghouse brake between the engine and the leading vehicle perfectly closed. I looked at this immediately after the collision and found that that was its position. The connection between the engine and the leading vehicle had been made at New Cross by a shunter. I had no booked time for arriving at New Cross, but I was really about half an hour late there as I had so stopped by signals on my way up from Eastbourne. I was fully occupied all the time I was at New Cross. I had arrived at New Cross at 5.53 a m. After my engine first came in contact with the vehicles of my train at New Cross I had to ease up twice in order to enable the shunter to couple up. We were three minutes late in leaving New Cross, as we were due to leave at 6.30 a.m. and we were late arriving at East Croydon, as we were due there at 6.45 a.m. I had shut off steam just at the overlain bridge just south of Norwood Junction, and this is the usual place for shutting off steam. I also applied the brake at the usual place. The rails were greasy that morning, and I had to apply sand frequently in coming from New Cross. If the brakes had acted as usual I have not the slightest doubt I should have stopped at the home signal. I have never had an accident before. I am a total abstainer and have so for 23 years. I called the attention of my fireman to the position of the cock when we came to a stand, but I did not call anyone else’s attention to it. It did not occur to me to call anyone else’s attention to it. I was rather severely injured. 

Elves, driver recalled later: The morning was clear enough for me to see the signals all right. I did not apply sand to the rails at all when I found the brake was not acting. The reason for not acting doing so was that the time was so short that I did not think of it. At the time my engine was coupled to the leading vehicle at New Cross the guard was down by the engine, but I am sure he did not watch the operation of coupling by being carried out. The guard was talking to the shunter while the operation of coupling was going on, but did not stay till the last. Whilst coupling was going on and the guard was moving away from the engine, I asked him whether he would be ready to start, but I could not hear whether he made any reply or not. I cannot remember whether my engine was blowing off steam when  approaching East Croydon. The Reason I had to ease up at New Cross was because when the engine first made contact with the vehicles the latter moved.

Elvey, driver, again recalled; I remember having a conversation with Mr. Fowler after the accident. I remember Mr. Fowler asking me what had been the cause of the accident. I told him that I did not know. He asked me whether I whistled previous to colliding with the engine, and I told him that I had not the time to do so as I was close to it. I did not mention to Mr. Fowler that the brake tap on the engine was shut. I thought that everything was against me, and the least that I said was the best. I did not think of whistling when I had passed the home signal at danger. I mentioned the fact of the taping closed to my foreman at Eastbourne when I arrived there.

Recalled - I had brought my engine up from Eastbourne on the morning of the 10th July. The brake of my engine acted well all the way up. When we started from New Cross I had no difficulty whatever in starting my train. When we left New Cross the gauge of my brake showed a pressure of between 70 and 80lbs., and whilst we were running to East Croydon the pressure was about 70lbs. When I applied the brake slightly on leaving New Cross I did not notice what effect it had on my gauge. I did not notice either how much pressure was reduced when I applied the brake before entering the relief line at Windmill Bridge Junction.

 

Thomas Hyde, fireman, states: I have been in the service of the Company about 14 years during the last nine of which I have been a fireman. I worked the same hours as driver Elvey on the 10th July, and was with him on the engine of the 6.30 a.m. empty carriage train. We arrived at New Cross at about 5.50 a.m., but I cannot say what time it was when we were coupled up to the vehicles of the train. I was breaking down the coal in the bunker when the engine was coupled up so I did not see the coupling operation actually carried out. We left New Cross about 6.33 a.m. I cannot say whether the Westinghouse brake was tested at all before we left. My mate as a rule generally tests the brake before starting, but I cannot say whether it was done on this occasion. My mate was busily engaged oiling the engine right up to the time we started. He was so engaged all the time we were at New Cross. The first time the automatic brake was applied was when we were coming out of the siding at New Cross. We were only just moving at the time and one could not tell whether it was acting or not. The next time the automatic brake was applied was after we had shut off steam south of Norwood Junction. The application of the brake at this time did not appear to reduce the speed of the train at all. My mate had applied it fully at this to time. I was following up with the hand brake so that the hand brake was applied as well as the automatic brake. The hand brake did not appear to have a great deal of effect on the engine. Immediately after the driver had applied the automatic brake he remarked to me that the brake was not acting well. I replied by applying my hand brake as hard as I could. I do not remember my driver whistling to the guard to apply his brake at the rear of the train. It is customary for the driver to do so. The only reason I can give for this not doing so is that he was too busy reversing his engine and trying to pull the train up. I expect also he was excited. As soon as we came into view of the East Croydon home signal we saw it was at danger. At this time I estimate our speed at about 10 miles an hour. I knew that we were running past the home signal at danger. Neither of us said anything to the other about our passing the home signal at danger. I think we were about 30 yards from the light engine when we first saw it, and we were still going at about 10 miles an hour. I was on the engine when the collision actually took place. I suffered from a bruised kneecap.  I think that the engine was coupled to the vehicles at New Cross about 10 minutes before we started. After the engine went back on its vehicles at New Cross I remember the shunter twice shouting out to the driver to ease up. On running up from East Croydon to New Cross both both the automatic brake and the hand brake of our engine were in good order. I am accustomed o working over this road. I have been firing with driver Elvey for only one week. Driver Elvey shut off steam on this occasion at the usual place and applied the brake at the usual place. About five minutes after we came to a stand at East Croydon, driver Elvey called my attention o the position of the Westinghouse cock at the rear of our engine and pointed out to me that it was shut. When the engine was coupled to its vehicles at New Cross the guard was present but did not stay to see the coupling up completed. I cannot say whether the driver applied sand when approaching East Croydon station. It was a dirty morning and had been raining continually the whole of the way from Eastbourne to New Cross. The rails were very slippery. The weather was not thick enough to prevent us seeing our signals. We had to turn our engine at New Cross and we had to fill up there with water, and we had then to shift over into the sidings of the line. 


George Robert Gatland, guard: I have been 15 years in the service of the Company, during 13 of which I have been guard. I came on duty at 6 a.m. on the 10th July to work until about 8 p.m. Should be off duty from mid day to 4 p.m. I had come off duty on the previous evening at 6.50. I was guard of the 6.30 a.m. empt carriage train. I myself was riding in the rear brake. The vehicles of therein were fitted with the Westinghouse automatic brake working blocks on all the wheels of the eight wheel carriages and on four wheels of the six vehicles. I joined the train at New Cross at 6 a.m. I myself was with the vehicles in the goods siding, and whilst I was there the engine came across to that siding. I think it was about 6.10 a.m., when the engine came to this siding. It was then at once coupled to the vehicles of the train. A New Cross shunter carried out the coupling between the engine and the leading vehicle. I was present there the whole time he was coupling up and saw him do it. He had coupled up the automatic brake and I saw him open the cock on both train and engine. I am quite sure of that. I was standing alongside the engine until this coupling operation was completed. When it was completed I myself went to the rear of the train and pulled the tap down at the rear of the brake. The result was to let out from 10 to 15lbs. of air. The gauge stood at 40 lbs. before I turned the tap, and the turning of the tap reduced it to about 25lbs. I then closed the tap up again. I was satisfied from this that the automatic brake was in good order. I noticed that before we started the pressure on the gauge in my van was between 40 and 50lbs., and it went up to this after I had reduced it to 25lbs. We left New Cross at 6.33 a.m. I fancy that the automatic brake was applied when we were leaving the goods yard. I think that the automatic brake was applied because I seemed o feel the blocks being applied again up to the time that the collision happened. I did not notice that our speed was checked at all until after running through Windmill Bridge Junction, and I should say me ran through that junction at about 12 miles an hour. After we had passed the distant signal for East Croydon I noticed that it was at danger. My train was still travelling at the same speed and I did not notice the automatic brake applied at all. I did not see anything of the home signal until after the collision. I looked up at it after the collision and saw that it was at danger. The first thing I knew of the collision was feeling the shock of it. Before the collision occurred I cannot say for certain whether the blocks were applied to my wheels or not. We came to a sudden stop at the moment of the collision and the carriages appeared to re-bound. The carriages never went forward again : they never moved any more. I did not notice the brake go on then. The re-bound of the train threw me backwards, and I then got up and got out of my brake van. I examined the brake blocks immediately I got out and then found they were hard on the wheels of my van and the coaches also. As we were approaching East Croydon I heard no whistle from the driver asking me to apply my hand brake. All the wheels of my ran had blocks worked by the hand brake. I think that our speed at the time of the collision was about 12 miles an hour. It was owing to the steam from the engine that I could not see the home signal until we reached it. It was a dull morning but if there had been no steam I should have  been able to have seen the signal. There had been some rain overnight, but the rails did lint seem very slippery in New Cross yard. I myself released the blocks from the wheels by the rope provided for the purpose. This was about half an hour after the accident and the blocks were then hard on. The carriage examiner was present when I released the blocks. I do not remember the driver asking me whether I would be ready to start when the signal came off at New Cross. There was no engine attached to the rear end or the train at the time I released the blocks. The driver eased up once at New Cross when his engine was being attached to the front vehicle of the train. Guard Gatland recalled: After leaving New Cross I did not notice what the pressure was on my gauge. Guard Gatland recalled latter: I did not myself release any hand brakes on the train, and as far as I am aware they were not on at the time the engine was coupled up. I tried both hand brakes and found them off.

 

 William Dearing, signalman states: I have been 29 years in the service of the Company, during 28 of which I have been employed as a signalman. I was on duty in the East Croydon North box at 6.30 a.m. on the 10th July. I had come on duty at 6 a,m, to work to 2 p,m, I had come off duty at 2 p.m. the previous day. I have been employed in that box since April, 1908, and am well acquainted with the working of it. At 6.44 a.m. the 6.20 a.m. train from London Bridge to Hasting arrived at this station, and came to a stand on the down relief line. At the time the train arrived the pilot engine was standing in Hall’s siding. I set No.31 points and pulled off No.30 ground disc in order that the pilot engine might run out to the back of the Hastings train. It did so, and the engine was coupled to a van at the rear of that train. No.30 disc was then replaced and No.32 pulled over in order that the pilot might set back with the van into Hall’s siding. After the pilot had come back, and come to a stand, No.32 disc was replaced. I then put No.35 lever back in the frame and No.39, and was then able to pull over No.40 points, which I then locked again with lever No.39. I then lowered No.38 disc and No.30, thus setting the road for the pilot engine to run from Hall’s siding to the back road. The pilot engine accordingly ran on to the back road. The van was then uncoupled from the pilot engine, and I replaced Nos. 38 and 30 discs, No.39 bolt, and gave the driver No.32 ground disc, and No.41 ground position disc to run from the back road into Hall’s sidings again. The driver started to run into Hall’s siding, but came into collision with the engine of an empty passenger train, near ground disc No.32. In my opinion, the pilot engine had actually come to stand before the collision took place. At the time of the collision took place, the pilot engine was running bunker first. I did not myself notice whether the men on the pilot engine were keeping a look out. The collision occurred as near as possible at 6.50 a.m. At 6.44 a.m. I was offered the 6.30 a.m. empty carriage train from Windmill Bridge Junction signal box. This was immediately after I had sent to Windmill Bridge Junction the “arrival” signal for the 6.20 a.m. train. I accepted that train at once. At the time I did so, the 6.20 a.m. train was standing in the station on the down relief line. I think it was about 6.48 a.m. when I received the “train entering section” signal from Windmill Bridge Junction. I did not lower any of my signals for that train. The regular signals for that train to enter the station would have been Nos 3 and 1 but No. 1 which works the distant signal is never lowered. I am absolutely positive that on this occasion I did not lower No.3 signal, and consequently not No.1. It was whilst this train was approaching my box that I was carrying out the shunting operations with the pilot engine and making use of No.31 points. 

It has been customary, ever since I have been employed in this signal-box, to accept trains up to No. 3 signal whilst use is being made of No. 31 points. 1 use the same signal on the block instrument in accepting a train from Windmill Bridge Junction, whether No. 3 signal is at danger or lowered. I did not see the empty carriage train until the engine had run past No. 3 signal. When I first saw the engine, it was about 20 yards my side of the signal. I estimate its speed at that time at about 12 miles an hour. When the engine passed me, the fireman appearecl to be looking down over his side of the engine, and I could not see the driver at all. I at once raised the window and raised my arms and shouted as loud as I could. They did not appear to hear me. I could not see vllether the engine was checking speed at the time. Steam was shut off, but I could not see whether the brakes were applied. I could not see whether the Westinghouse brake was applied to the engine, but I am confident that it was not applied to the wheels of the vehicles of the train. I saw the collision actually occur, and I think that the speecl of the empty carriage train was still 12 miles an hour. The pilot engine was strucli a terrific blow and was driven back along the back road. The engine of the empty carriage train appeared to follow it up. I saw that one of the vehicles behind the engine was telescoped. It is customary to keep the pilot engine in Hall's siding, and it was for that purpose I was bringing it back there. I did not hear the driver sound any whistle to the guard to apply his hand brake before the collision occurred. It appeared to me that the vehicles of the train came to a dead stand almost immediately after the engine parted from them, but I did not notice whether the blocks actually went on to the wheels of the vehicles. We have no such signal in use at this box as the "Section clear but junction blocked " signal. There was nothing to cause the driver of the pilot engine to bring his engine to a stand at the point where he did except to avoid a collision. It is in accordance with my regulations to accept a train up to the home signal when the line in front of it is not absolutely clear.

Dearing, signalman, recalled later: I saw the engine of the empt,y passenger train running past my box, but I could not say for certain whether the wheels were revolving or whether they were skidding.  

 

George Eke, signalman, states: I have been 23 years in the service of the Company, during the whole of which time I have been employed as a signalman. On the 10th July i was on duty in the Windmill Bridge Junction signal box. I came on duty there at 6 a.m. to work to 2 p.m. I remember the 6.30 a.m. empty carriage train running through my junction. it passed my signal at 6.48 a.m., and when running through the junction it ran from the down main to the down relief line. I estimate the speed of the train when it ran past my box at about 12 miles an hour. This is about the usual speed of trains running through the junction. At 6.43 a.m. I had offered this train to the East Croydon north signal box, and it had been accepted at once. The East Croydon distant signal was not lowered for the train. I could not see the East Croydon home signal. The train appeared when running through the junction to be well under control, but not to be checking speed to any appreciable extent. I cannot say whether the blocks were applied to the wheels at all. 

 

Ernest Wolfe, shunter, states : I have been nine years in the service of the Company, and have been a shunter for about one and a half years. I am employed at New Cross Yard, and have been there for the last 18 months. On the morning of the 10th July I remember doing some work in connection with the 6.30 a.m. empty carriage train. I had to couple the engine to the train I did so at about 6.5 a.m. Guard Gatling was present while I was coupling up. I am sure that guard Gatling was present the whole time I was coupling up. 1 coupled together the Westinghouse automatic brake pipes. I have also to pull the taps down. There are two taps, one on the train and one on the engine. I opened both of these. I am quite sure that I did so. The guard was present when I did this. After I had done the coupling up I asked the guard if everything was correct, arid he said "Yes." This was after I had finished everything. I did nothing more to this train. The guard went back to the rear part of the train. I did not have any conversation with the driver. At the time I connected up I think the driver was oiling up, and he did not see me connect up the automatic brake. Nobody saw me do it except the guard. I do not know whether the guard tested the brake. I think it was about 20 minutes after I had coupled up that the train started away. While I was coupling up the driver had once to ease up. It was the guard who gave him the signal to do so. The reason why the easing up was necessary was because the train was standing on a curve, and whilst one pair of buffers were touching the others were not. The easing up was not due to the fact that thr vehicles had moved after the engine had first come into contact with them. I myself saw the train leaving the sidings. The train was slightly checked at the disc signal when leaving the sidings. I cannot say whether at that time the Westinghouse brake was applied. Recalled: At the time I coupled the engine to the empty carriage train the blocks were on the wheels of the carriages. The reason that I know this is that the vehicles of the train did not move when the engine backed up against them, but I did not actually see the blocks on the wheels. When I opened the cocks of the brake pipe I did not notice whether it made any alteration in the position of the blocks on the wheels. The cocks opened as easily as they usually do. Recalled again : When I coupled up the engine to the carriage train the cock on the leading brake van was half turned, so that it was partially open. I am quite sure of that. I cannot say whether the hand brakes were applied to the train at the time.   

 

Frederick William Pryke, shunter, states: I have been 16 years in the service of the Company, and have been a shunter for about eight years. I am now stationed at East Croydon. I was on duty at the time this accident occurred. At the time I was standing in the four-foot of the back road siding. I at once jumped up on to the dock, and as soon as I recovered I went up to the engine to look for the driver. I found him lying in the cab. I noticed that the gear of the pilot engine was in the reverse position. I did not notice anything about the brake pipes. I did nut notice anything about the position of the brake cocks on the engine of the empty carriage train. 

 

George Miller, shunter, states: I have been 17 years in he service of the Company, during 16 of which I have been a shunter. I was on duty at New Cross station on the morning of the 10th July, and assisted to form up the empty carriage train which left about 6.30 a.m. The train was made up in the down carriage siding, back road, and its making up was completed by about 3 a.m. About 3.50 a.m the empty carriage train was pulled out of the down sidings by a pilot engine and was backed into the goods sidings. This movement was completed at about 4.5 a.m. In this movement the train was shifted altogether about half a mile. Whilst this movement was being carried out the Westinghouse brake was used throughout the train. I am quite sure that this was done. When the train was brought to a stand in the goods sidings it was stopped by means of the Westinghouse brake. Whilst the movement was being carried nut I was riding in the brake at the rear of the empty carriage train. After the train had been brought to a stand I examined the brake connections and the couplings between all the vehicles of the train and found they were correctly coupled up. At that time the pilot engine was still attached to the train. I then uncoupled the Westinghouse pipe between the engine and the leading brake van. I pulled the tap down on the brake rm to release the air and apply the brakes. The brake blocks went on. When I opened the cock I pulled it right over and let all the air out and left the cock open. I then asked the driver to ease up so as to slacken the couplings, and I then uncoupled the engine. 1 then left the train and had nothing more to rln with it. I am confident that when I left the train the cock on the leading brake ran was left open. There was no one else on the train with me when I went down to the goods sidings.. When I left the train the hand brakes on both the front and rear brake van were not applied. It is not necessary to do so in the goods sidings, as it is level.

 

Richard Brown, porter, states : I have been eight years in the service of the Company, during four or Five of which 1have been employed as a porter. I am employed at Honor Oak Park station. On the morning of the 10th July 1 saw the 6.30 a m . empty carriage train running into East Croydon station. I was standing on the up side of the line between the Ground Frame and St. James Road Bridge, and while standing there I noticed the train run past. I noticed that the brake blocks were on the driving wheels of the engine, but that they were not on the wheels of the vehicles of the train. I am not sure whether the brakes were applied to the bogie wheels of the engine or not, hut I am sure they were applied to the coupled wheels, and I am quite sure that the blocks were not applied to the other wheels of the vehicles of the train. I saw that the driving wheels of the engine were skidding, and it was that that drew my attention to them. I then looked at the wheels of the carriages as well to see if they were skidding. This was about a quarter to seven o’clock. I live at East Croydon, and was on my way home when this happened. The speed of the train was the usual speed - about 15 miles an hour. I mentioned these facts to my father on the day on which they occurred. 

 

Mr. George Fowler states: I am locomotive foreman of the East Croydon District, and have held this appointment for seven and a half years. I arrived on the scene of the accident about an hour after it had occurred. The pilot engine was standing on the back road with its radial wheels just foul of the trap omits of that siding the engine of the empty carriage train was standing close up to it with all its wheels on the rails. The leading vehicle of the train was about 35 yards away from it, and the front vehicle was really telescoped into the second one, and both appeared as one vehicle. All the wheels of the second vehicle were off the line except the rear pair of wheels of the rear bogie. The vehicles behind the second were not to my knowledge off the line at all, and they were being drawn away when I arrived.

Mr. Fowler recalled later: I did not notice at all what was the position of the brake tap at the back of the engine of the empty carriage train. Nobody called my attention to it. After I got hold of the situation of affairs I went to the driver and heard from him his version of what had happened. He did not say anything to me about the position of the brake cock at the back of the engine.

Recalled again. I first questioned the driver as to the position of the signals, and he admitted they were against him. I then questioned him as to where he shut off steam and applied the brakes, and he said that he shut off steam and applied the brakes before entering the down relief line. He did this because he knew that the position of the home signal was difficult to see until he got near to it. He said the brakes did not seem to act. I questioned him then as to what steps he took to stop the train, and he said that he reversed the engine. I asked him if he applied steam after reversing the engine, and he said he had not time. I also asked him whether he whistled for the guard to apply the brake, and he said he had not time to do so. I asked him whether the brake was tested before leaving New Cross, and he could not say. He said he had used the brake on leaving New Cross, and that it appeared to act all right. The driver and fireman both said that the fireman had his hand brake hard on.        

 

Richard Sherman, carriage examiner, states: I have been 20 years in the service of the Company, and have been a carriage examiner for 15 years. 1 am now stationed at Croydon. I visited the scene of the accident immediately after it had occurred. I was on the end of the down platform when the accident took place. The first thing I went to we was whether there were any passengers in the train, and I found there were not. I then examined the train. I saw that all the Westinghouse brakes were on. I mean that the blocks were applied to all the wheels of the train. The blocks were all hard on. The blocks were released by the guard bp the use of the release cord. The guard released them by instructions, and I myself saw that that was the way in which they were released. l did not examine the brake tap at the rear end of the engine, and nobody called my attention to it all. 

 

CONCLUSION 

The driver of the pilot engine is unfortunately dead, and the fireman was so seriously injured that he was unable to attend the inquiry ; there is, however, no dispute as to the movements of the pilot engine. This engine had been engaged in shunting a.vehicle from the down relief line into the back road, and on completion of this operation it was running bunker first from the back road into Hall’s sidings, where it usually stood. On account of this movement, therefore, the facing points on the down relief line leading to the back road, and the trailing point’s on the same line leading to Hall’s sidings, were both. pulled over, and the pilot engine appears to have just reached the last named points when it was run into by the engine of the empty carriage train. Signalman Dearing, who was on duty in the north signal box, thinks that the pilot engine had come to stand at the time of the collision, from which it appears probable that the driver or fireman had seen the train approaching, and had brought the pilot engine to a stand. No responsibility for this accident appears however to attach in any way to either the driver or the fireman of this engine.

As regards the empty carriage train, there is no dispute as to the down relief line home signal having been at danger when the train ran past it, as both the driver and fireman on the engine of that train admit that such was the case ; the reason why the train passed that signal when it was at danger is not however so simple of explanation, as the evidence of the driver and fireman on the subject is absolutely at variance with that of the guard of the train and with that of the shunter who coupled up the engine to the train.

The evidence of driver Elvey, who was in charge of the engine of the empty carriage train, is to the following. effect:- 

He had arrived with his engine at New Cross from Eastbourne at 5.53 a.m. and, during that journey his brakes had acted well ; on arrival he had to turn the engine, fill up with water, and then shift over into the sidings where the carriage train was standing ready for him. At about 6.10 or 6.15 a.m. his engine was coupled on to the empty carriage train, and at 6.33 a.m. he started for East Croydon. Elvey admits that before leaving New Cross he did not test the Westinghouse automatic brake in any way, and that, as far as he knew, the guard did not do so either. He admits that he was aware of the rule quoted above, that engine drivers must satisfy themselves that the Westinghouse brake is in proper order before starting and he states that his reason for not carriage out this rule was because he was engaged in oiling his engine. Whilst starting from New Cross, Elvey applied the automatic brake slightly, on account of a disc signal being against him, but he states that he did not apply it sufficiently hard to enable him to notice whether it affected the train or not,. At Windmill Bridge Junction, the train had to run through a connection leading from the down main line to the down relief line, and Elvey estimates the speed at which he run through the junction at slightly over 15 mile an hour. Steam had been turned off and the automatic brake applied before entering the down relief line. Elvey would have obtained a view of the East Croydon down relief line home signal when about 250 yards distant from it, and before sighting this signal he noticed that his train was not reducing speed as quickly as it should, and he on that account applied the automatic brake fully. Before he sighted the home signal he had intimated to his fireman that there was something wrong with the automatic brake, and the latter accordingly applied the hand brake.

Both driver and fireman agree that as soon as they sighted the home signal they saw that it was at danger. Elvey asserts positively that at this time both the Westinghouse brake and the hand brake were fully applied, but that they did not appear to have any effect on the train, and he knew that he was running past the home signal at danger Elvey reversed his engine, but he states that there was nothing more that he could do. 

He admits that he did not whistle, either to give warning that he had lost control of his train, or to ask the guard to apply the hand brake at his end of the train; nor did he apply sand at all. He states that his own engine was at a very short distance from the pilot engine when he first saw it, but he is unable to say what his speed was at the time that the collision occurred. Elves states that, immediately after the collision, he looked at the cock of the Westinghouse brake at the rear of the engine, and he found that it was closed, thus rendering it impossible for him to apply the Westinghouse brake from his engine to the vehicles of the train. Elves pointed out to his fireman the position of the cock, but he did not call anyone else’s attention to it, and he did not make any further mention of the fact until he arrived at Eastbourne.

Fireman Hyde, who was on the engine with driver Elvey, corroborates the evidence in every respect, and he states that about five minutes after they came to rest at East Croydon, Elvey called his attention to the position of the Westinghouse cock at the rear of their engine, and pointed out to him that it was shut.

Both driver Elvey and firman Hyde maintain that, though guard Gatland was present near the engine whilst it was being coupled up at New Cross, he did not remain there to see the coupling completed.

According therefore to the evidence of these two men the fact of the train being allowed to run past the home signal at danger was due to the fact that the brake pipe cock at the rear o the engine was closed, and that the driver was consequently unable to apply the automatic Westinghouse brake to the wheels of the vehicles of the train.

If the above evidence be correct driver Elvey is nevertheless on his own admission largely responsible for this accident. It was his duty to see, in accordance with own the rules quoted above, that the brake couplings between the engine and the leading vehicle were properly made, that the corresponding cocks were open, and that the brake was in proper working order before starting. These regulations he altogether neglected, so , even if his evidence as to the position of the brake cock be accepted, the responsibility for this accident must largely rest on him.

The evidence, however, of shunter Wolfe, who coupled up the engine to the train at New Cross, and guard Gatland, who was acting as guard of the train, is directly at variance with that of the driver and fireman as regards the brake cock being closed.

Shunter Wolfe, who was on duty at the New Cross yard on the morning in question, states that he carried out the coupling up of the engine to the empty carriage train. He did so at about 6.5 a.m., and he is positive that guard Gatland was present during the whole time that the coupling operation was being carried out. He asserts positively that he coupled together the Westinghouse automatic brake pipes and also opened the two cocks, of which was on the leading vehicle of the train, and the other on the engine. After the coupling up, he asked the guard if everything was correct, and he replied “Yes.” Wolfe asserts positively that the time he commenced to couple up the engine to the train, the brake cock on the leading brake van was half turned so that the train pipe was partially opened to the atmosphere; he thinks also that at that time the brake blocks were applied to the wheels of the train, but on this last point he is not certain.

Guard Gatland states that he was standing alongside the engine whilst the coupling operation was carried out and that he did not leave until it was completed. He states that he is quite sure that he saw shunter Wolfe open the cocks on the leading vehicle of the train and on the engine. When the coupling operation was completed he went to the rear  end of the train and tested the brake by opening the cock at the rear of his van. The gauge, he states, stood at 40lbs. He then closed the cock, and he noticed the before starting the pressure on the gauge went up again to between 40 and 50lbs. If this evidence of guard Gatland as regards his testing the brake is correct, it proves conclusively that after the engine had been coupled up the cocks between the engine and vehicles of the train were all open as otherwise the pressure in the train pipe could not have been raised after the test.

Garland thinks that the automatic brake was applied when they were leaving the goods yard, and his reason for thinking so id that he seemed to fell the blocks being applied to the wheels of his van. He did not however notice the block being again applied up to the time of the collision occurring. When running through Windmill Bridge Junction he noticed that the distant signal for East Croydon was at danger, and he estimates their speed through that junction at about 12 miles an hour. On account of the steam from the engine he was unable to see the East Croydon home signal until after the collision; the first he knew of the collision was feeling the shock of it, and he cannot say for certain whether the blocks were applied to the wheels before it actually occurred. He estimates the speed at the time of the collision at about 12 miles an hour. About an hour after the accident he examined the blocks on the wheels of the train ;he found that the blocks were then hard on, and he himself released them by means of the cord attached to the release valve. 

The evidence of the guard and the shunter is therefore absolutely at variance with that of the driver and the fireman as regards the position of the brake pipe cock at I rear of the engine.

In connection with this point attention must be drawn to two facts: firstly, driver Elrey admits that he had no difficulty in starting the train from New Cross, and it therefore clear that at that time the brake blocks must have been off the wheels of I train; if the cock at the rear of the engine was never opened after the engine was coupled up to the train, the blocks could not halve been taken off the wheels by pressure supplied to the train pipe from the engine, and they must have been off the wheels at the time of the coupling up. Secondly, it is admitted that after the collision the brake blocks were found to be fully applied on all the wheels of the train, proving that at the time of the accident there must have been pressure throughout the train pipe and in the auxiliary reservoirs ; if, again, the cock at the rear of the engine was never opened after the engine was coupled up to the train, this pressure could not have been obtained from the engine, and must therefore have been in the train pipe at the time when the engine was coupled up.

With the object, however, of obtaining some further light on these points, evidence was taken as to the condition in which the train had been left after it had been formed up previous to the arrival of the engine from Eastbourne. It appears that the train was: made up in the down carriage siding at New Cross at about 3 a.m., and that at about 3.50 a.m. it was pulled out of those sidings by a pilot engine and was backed at about 4.5 am. into the goods sidings, where it remained until it started for East Croydon at 6.33 a.m. Shunter Miller, who was in charge of the last shunting movement, states that whilst it was being carried out the Westinghouse brake was used throughout the train. Miller states that after the train had been finally brought to a stand in the goods siding, he uncoupled the Westinghouse pipe between the engine and the leading brake van, and then opened the cock on the brake-van in order to release the air from the train pipe and to apply the brakes ; the brake blocks, he states, went on, and he then uncoupled the engine. Miller states positively that at the time he left the train, which was at 4.5 a.m,, the brake blocks were applied on the wheels of the train and that the brake pipe cock on the leading vehicle was open.

From the fact of the brake blocks having been applied to the wheels of the train at about 4 a.m., no conclusion can be drawn, as by 6.30 a.m. the pressure in the cylinders might have leaked off, and in that case there would have been no difficulty in starting the train. But shunter Miller's statement as to the brake cock on the front vehicle having been open previous to the coupling up of the engine is corroborated by shunter Wolfe, and if the evidence of these two men is correct on this point there could not possibly have been any pressure in the train pipe at that time; it therefore follows that the only source from which the pressure, which applied the brakes after the accident, was obtained, must have been the engine which took it to East Croydon, and in that case the brake cock between the engine and the leading vehicle must have been open. This evidence, with the conclusion resulting from it, throws, therefore, considerable doubt on the accuracy of the evidence given by driver Elvey and fireman Hyde with regard to the position of this cock.

Further doubt is also thrown on the accuracy of Elvey's evidence by his own actions in the course of this accident. Consideriug that he is a driver of considerable experience, his want of action in not whistling either for the guard's assistance or as a warning that he had lost control of his train, and his omission to sand the rails, are inconsistent with his statement that he was aware that he was passing the home signal at danger.

Further, the het that after the accident he failed to call the attention of any responsible official at East Croydon to the position in which he states that he found the brake cock at the rear of his engine is very remarkable. He states that he at once called his own fireman’s attention to it, so, if that was the case, it is evident that he realised the importance of the discovery ; nevertheless he mentioned the matter to no one else at the time, and consequently no further corroborative evidence was obtained regarding it. Even when, half an hour after the accident, the local locomotive foreman, Mr. Fowler, asked him for an explanation of the occurrence, Elvey stated in reply that he did not know what was the cause of the accident, and he made absolutely no mention at all of his having found the cock closed, though this piece of evidence was of such vital importance to himself ; he only mentioned the matter again on his arrival at Eastbourne, when it was too late for any corroboration to be obtained. 

 Taking all the above facts and evidence into consideration, I am reluctantly compelled to form the opinion that the statements made by driver Elvey and fireman Hyde respectively as to their having found the brake cock closed, are not correct and that that was not the cause of this collision.

Driver Elvey’s actions whilst running between Windmill Junction and East Croydon point, in my opinion, conclusively to his having been unaware that he was passing the home signal at danger; it is therefore to his want of care in not noticing he position of that signal that this accident must, I consider, be attributed.

The Company gives driver Elvey a very good character; he had been four hours on duty at the time of the accident.

There is one further point which calls for note in connection with this accident. Under the Company’s riles for block working, the “Line Clear” signal should not be given for a train to approach from the next block post unless the line is clear for a quarter of a mile ahead of theme signal. In this case the “Line Clear” signal was given by the signalman in the North signal box to allow this train to run up from Windmill Junction to the East Croydon home signal whilst the line was being fouled by the light engine at a point 170 yards ahead of that signal; moreover, it is admitted that it is customary for trains to be accepted at the North signal box on the “Line Clear” signal under these circumstances. This not however in accordance with the Company’s own block rules, and their attention should be drawn to the matter.    

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