IGNITING THE FLAME OF UNITY

 

THE HISTORY OF THE

  BRIGHTON BRANCH OF A.S.L.E.F.

  

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 COLLISION AT BRIGHTON TICKET COLLECTION PLATFORM

SATURDAY 15th APRIL 1865


extracted & adapted from the report by W. Yolland


The results into the circumstances which I attended a collision that occurred on Saturday 15th April, between two passenger trains at the ticket platform at Brighton station, when about nine persons received bruises, contusions, or severe shakes, but I am informed that none were seriously hurt. The ticket platform is situated a very short distance south of Montpelier semaphore box at the entrance or the station yard. Down trains arriving by the main line from London, and by the branch line from Hastings and Lewes, are sometimes turned into the east side of the ticket platform, and sometimes to the west side of it. The signal box contains high signals for the main line and the Portsmouth branch, and low signals for the Lewes and Hastings branch; one of these low signals being used when trains are turned to run in on the east side of the ticket platform, and the other to cover the line on the west side of the ticket platform. In addition to these low signals there is a distant signal to the east on the Lewes and Hastings branch, which is 694 yards from the signal box, and which can be seen by a train proceeding to Brighton just before it enters a short tunnel or at about 315 yards distant from the signal.

The line between Lewes and Brighton has a steep incline in each direction falling both toward s Lewes and towards Brighton, that nearest to Brighton of falling for about one mile at an inclination of 1 in l00, succeeded by 1 in 264 for 2l/2 miles, and thence level to the junction for 31 chains. The last portion being in the on a sharp curve of 15 1/2 chains radius. 

On the 15th April, the London, Brighton, South Coast Railway Company were engaged in conveying large numbers of volunteers and other persons to Brighton for the volunteer review on the following Monday. And It appears that the 9h. 0m. p.m. down train from London Bridge was so heavy, that, instead of being united at East Croydon with the portion coming from the Victoria Station, both portions were sent through to Brighton as separate trains. The London Bridge portion of the train consisted of the engine and 14 carriages, and it was 59 minutes late when it reached Brighton, having been delayed by the train in front. It was kept outside the station yard about eight minutes by the signals at the Montpelier signal box being against it, and when the signal to proceed was given the train drew ahead to the east side of the ticket platform and had not quite come to a stand-still when it was run into by the engine of the 9h. 0m. p.m. train from Lewes, which struck the London train at about the fourth carriage from the end, threw two carriages off the rails, completely destroying their bodies and carrying away about 12 or 14 feet of the ticket platform. The collision took place about 9h.31 p.m. This Lewes train consisted of an engine, six carriages and one break-van at the tail of the train. It left Lewes eight minutes late, stopped about a minute at the Falmer Station, and left about 9h. 22m., which station is not very far from the head of the incline falling towards Brighton, and when it got near the bottom of the incline and came in sight of the distant signal worked from the Montpelier signal box, which is soon through a short tunnel, it is admitted by the driver, fireman, and guard of the train that the lamp of the distant signal showed a red light or danger signal. The Montpelier junction signal can be seen from the distant signal, and that junction signal was also on at danger against this Lewes train.

The driver of the London Bridge train saw the Lewes train approaching as he moved ahead towards the ticket platform, and he thought it was, running faster than usual, or about 30 miles an hour, as it passed the distant signal. The signalman at the Montpelier box says the Lewes train came in much faster than usual that night, and he estimates the speed at which it was running when it passed his box, which stands some 20 yards north of the spot where the collision took place, at 10 miles an hour. The guard of the train thinks they would have stopped at the usual place at the ticket platform if the line had been clear. He also says the steam was off when they came in sight of the distant signal, and the fireman says the same. The driver of the London train thinks it was off when he first saw the Lewes train. The driver and fireman of the Lewes train were subsequently given into custody for neglect in running in against the danger signals, and are to be prosecuted. Both declined to give me the information I required, but stated that the lights at the Montpelier signal box were badly seen, owing to steam about that part of the yard, and that they were also wrongly directed, as they could not frequently be seen until the train had passed the distant signal some considerable distance. They also urged that it would be safer to work the traffic with the assistance of the electric telegraph, placing a telegraphic signal box near the spot at the eastern side of the tunnel, where the distant signal is first seen by a train approaching Brighton.

I do not think that there is any reason for supposing that they could not see the junction signal that night, and at all events I am informed that the distant signal is never put on at danger unless the east side of the ticket platform is occupied by another train. By the admission of the driver and fireman this distant signal was on against them, so that I have no doubt that the collision was occasioned by neglect and want of care on the part of the engine driver in not having taken the proper steps to reduce his speed and to bring the train under complete control as soon as he saw the distant signal at danger.

I must, however, remark that this Lewes train was not provided with a sufficient proportion of break power, one vehicle out of seven independent of the engine is totally insufficient to enable a train to be stopped in a short distance on so steep an incline as 1 in 88, which exists on the side towards Lewes, or of 1 in 100 towards Brighton.

I should add that the rule No. 33, page 17, in the company's regulations says "drivers and guards are required to pull up their trains at the distant signal when at slop, having done so they must without a moment's delay move gently forward as far as the road may be clear to await a signal from the semaphore to proceed," is not very explicit, and is differently understood by different people. If it means that they are to stop their trains dead, it would be better to say so.

 

 

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