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 EAST CROYDON

21st AUGUST 1854

Extracted and adapt from a report 

by Douglas Galton, Capt. Royal Engineers

The accident that occurred at Croydon, on the 21st August, 1854, an excursion train belonging to the South Eastern Railway, having come into collision with a ballast engine standing on the line at Croydon. The portion of railway on which this accident happened belongs to the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway Company, and is entirely under the management of that Company, but is run over by the trains of the South Eastern Railway Company, to the number of some 30 per diem. The approach to the Croydon station from the south is on a curve, and on a falling gradient of 1 in 264; and it is protected by two signals-a semaphore signal, to the south of the station, and a distant revolving signal-which are worked by the same signalman, the handles of the south semaphore (as I shall designate it), and the lever of the distant signal, being within 5 yards of each other. To the north of the station there is a ballast pit, and there are several sidings ; and for the further protection of this portion of the line, there is another semaphore signal, serving to warn both up and down trains. Thus, then, there are three London, Brighton, and South Coast signals at the Croydon station applying to the up line, or to trains from the Railway. south, the north semaphore signal, the south semaphore signal, and the distant signal : the north and south semaphore signals are 373 lards apart, and the distant signal is 533 yards to the south of the south semaphore signal. The curve which occurs on this portion of the line prevents the north semaphore from being seen from a greater distance than 400 yards ; but the south semaphore is plainly visible from a distance of at least 786 yards, the view of it from an approaching engine being intercepted, however, for a space of 190 yards, by some bridges and an aqueduct, which are carried over the railway, but which being passed, it is again seen from a distance of 413 yards. I may mention also that the distant signal, besides being worked by wires by the signalman stationed at the south semaphore, is provided with a self acting apparatus, by means of which it is invariably set “ at danger " by the passing of an engine or train ; and that the principal duty of the signalman, in reference to this signal, is to set it at "all right" again, as soon as the engine or train has proceeded past the north semaphore. These details will probably become clearly understood by a reference to the enclosed plan, with which the Brighton Company have been so good as to supply me.

The particulars of the occurrence are briefly as follows :

An excursion train was run by the South Eastern Railway Company, on the 21st instant, to take passengers from Dover and the neighbourhood, as well as from other parts of the railway, to the Crystal Palace; and one of that Company's inspectors was sent down for the express purpose of taking charge of it. When the excursion train arrived at Ashford, the number of passengers was so great that the inspector found it necessary to divide it into two portions ; and, having divided it, he sent forward the first half, remaining, himself, to prepare, and proceed with the second portion. The second portion left Ashford 20 minutes after the 1st portion, and, after remaining for 8 minutes at the Redhill Junction, started again at 12.38 for the Crystal Palace. Unfortunately, however, in passing the Croydon station, it ran into a ballast engine, which had just been taking water at a crane, which is situated 153 yards to the south of the north semaphore signal; and, as the portion of the line on which this happened was curved, the engine of the excursion train, and the break van next to it, were thrown of the line by the effect of centrifugal force, on the outside of thc curve, when the engine turned over on its side, and the carriages, thus suddenly stopped, ran against each other-those in the rear against those which were in front-and against some ballast wagons, which were standing on a neighbouring siding. The leading carriages were, in this manner, so broken up that three of the passengers have lost their lives, and at least eleven others received injuries, some of them of a most serious nature.

I will now proceed to investigate the circumstances which led to this melancholy result.

It appears that the notice given by the South Eastern Railway Company to the London. Brighton, and South Coast Railway Company. and to the stationmasters dong the line, of their intention to run the excursion train on the 21st instant, was to the erect that a special up train would pass Croydon at 11.35 a.m., and would repass Croydon at 7.20 p.m., in returning on that day; and that this notice was also given by the traffic manager of the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway to the stationmaster at Croydon, as well as to other servants of the Company. But, as before stated, it was found necessary to divide the excursion train into two portions at Ashford, on account of its great length, and, as far as can learn, the first half was despatched from Ashford, without any notice having been sent forward of the division which had taken place and the second half started from Ashford, without any further precaution having been taken than to telegraph it from station to station as it proceeded. Now this mode of proceeding was not, perhaps, so much calculated to lead to dangerous consequences on the South Eastern Railway, as it is the invariable rule, on that line, not only to telegraph trains from station to station, but to prohibit a train from leaving any station, until it has been ascertained, by telegraph, that the line is clear to the next stationbut on the Brighton Railway, on which the train entered, near the Stoat’s Nest station, the case is different, as shall presently have occasion to show. It seems that the assistant of the stationmaster at Redhill, having ascertained from the guard of the first half of the excursion train, that a second portion of it would follow, affixed a red board to the tail of the first portion, and thus gave warning along the Brighton Railway that a special train would travel up the line at a subsequent periodthis being the usual notification that a special train may be expected. After the first portion of the excursion train, there passed up the line four other trains, one of them a Dover train, and one a ballast train, and thc other two belonging to the Brighton Company, but no doubt could have been entertained that the red board did not apply to any one of these trains, as they were none of them of a special nature. Next came the second half of the excursion train; the only general notice of its approach, which was sent up the Brighton line from Redhill, was, as before stated, the red board, which had been affixed to the first portion at that station ; but a telegraphic message announced its passage from station to station, and, preceding its arrival, gave such warning as might probably, if attended to, have insured its safety. The telegraph clerk at Croydon thus received due notice from his needle, that a special Dover train had left Stoat’s Nest (a station 4 1/2 miles to the south of Croydon) for Croydon, at 12.53, and he recorded the message in his book in these words, D. special 12.53.

The stationmaster at Croydon had seen the red hoard behind the first half of the excursion train, but thought proper to consider that it had not meant anything, because four trains, not special, had followed ; and went to his dinner about the time that this message was received. The signalmen respectively posted at the north and south semaphore signals of the Croydon station, had also each of them seen the red tail board, and, although four trains, not special, had followed it, they still considered that a special train might be expected, hut they did not know when ; so the signalman at the north semaphore signed to the driver of a ballast engine, who was in want of water, to come and take it from the main line, and the signalman of the south semaphore began to dine in his box. Whilst matters were in this peaceful state at the Croydon station, a train was heard approaching, on which the south signalman left his dinner in his box, and seeing the train some 300 yards on the other side of his distant signal, lie did not set his distant signal at " danger" to warn its driver, but he rang a bell, with which he is provided, for the purpose of preparing the north signalman for its approach, and when the train came nearer, he held up his hand over his head as ,a sign of danger. The north signalman, however, heard the train coming himself, and directed the driver of the ballast engine to go back out of the way, which he attempted to do and nearly succeeded m doing, when he was struck by the excursion train, and a crash ensued which the stationmaster returned in time to hear, as, before he was able to commence his dinner, he heard an unusual amount of whistling, which induced him to quit it, just in time to witness the result of the catastrophe.

Now there were three measures of precaution, the adoption of any one of which would, in all probability, have prevented this accident. The first the immediate promulgation of the telegraphic message “ D. special 12.53” from Stoat's Nest. The second-the turning on of the distant signal to “danger.” And the third the keeping clear of the main line, when a special train was, or ought to have been expected. But the first was not done because the electric telegraph is stated by the Brighton Company to be used on their line simply to register the arrival and departure of trains, and not for the purpose of working the line. The second was not done because the south signalman has special instructions from his superiors not to use his distant signal, unless trains arc crossing at the station, or are at the south portion of it. And the third was not done, because it was not known that the second half of the excursion train was so soon to arrive, and because the ballast engine had not the means of obtaining water without coming on the main line.

In regard to the use of the electric telegraph on the Brighton Railway, must here beg to offer one or two observations, more specially than should otherwise perhaps have done, because this is a case in which confirmation is given in so marked a manner, to the expediency of the recommendations addresser; by their Lordships to the Railway Companies in a circular of so recent a date as the 12th ultimo. In that circular, the careful consideration of the directors of the different companies was  requested to the system of working on the South Eastern Railway, and to a limited extent on some other railways, under which greater security is afforded from the most numerous class of railway accidents, those occasioned by collision between trains following each other upon the same line of rails. The mode of working proposed for consideration, is simply not to allow train to leave any station until it has been ascertained by telegraph that the line is clear to the next station. Now one great advantage of the system to which attention has thus been drawn, is, that so long as it is strictly adhered to no train can approach a station without being expected, and that, therefore, if the main line be not freed from obstruction of every kind, and be not clear to receive it, or be not protected by all the means within the power of those in charge of the station, the direct responsibility of any accident that may happen, must rest upon the heads of the station authorities.

The Brighton Company alleged that they have tried for some time to work their line by telegraph, and are continuing to try to do so, but have never succeeded, in consequence of the number of trains on the line, and the number of stations worked by one continuous wire. How, the number of trains on the line is only an additional reason for the adoption of some extra measure of precaution of this nature, and is no cause of difficulty, so long as the telegraph stations are at suitable intervals ; and, if the wire were divided from station to station, the latter difficulty would he at once disposed of. The only inconvenience, or, perhaps danger, which the Brighton Company then conceive to remain, is that trains are kept at intermediate stations, instead of being allowed to come on to principal stations where they may he better protected by signals. Any argument of danger, on this account, at once falls to the ground, as long as the telegraph clerks, and their communication with the signalmen, are to be depended upon, because, under the system referred to, trains at the intermediate stations may, in all cases, be protected by telegraph from the approach of another train from the next station, and intermediate stations, therefore, become as secure, in this respect as the principal stations. But the Brighton Company believe that the attention required is so pest, and the mistakes made are so frequent, in telegraph messages, that it would be very dangerous to depend upon the telegraph clerks and their communications with the signalmen ; and, as think I have shown that the other objections above mentioned may be overcome, it would appear that in this belief lies the only objection which has any claim to validity, to the system referred to of working the line by telegraph.” Even this objection the Brighton Company still hope to overcome, by simplifying the present signals, or by making an engine give a signal itself, which latter they consider to be the preferable course, and they express themselves anxious, in that case, to work by telegraph.

In the meantime, as far as the Croydon station is concerned, the needle is employed for the purpose of communicating all necessary warnings ; but these are unnoticed. The stationmaster considers the telegraph as useless, and therefore does not attempt to make use of it ; and the telegraph clerk fulfils his instructions by simply writing in his book whatever he may learn from his instrument, in regard to the approach of trains. I must remark, however, that, although the telegraph clerk at Croydon does not consider it his duty to communicate to anybody the warnings he receives, yet the telegraph clerks at

Stoat's Nest and Forest Hill both state that they think it necessary in all cases to communicate with the signalmen at their stations when they receive notice of the approach of an unexpected train, and that they did so in the case of this very train. It appears, therefore, and it is somewhat singular, that, though working under the same instructions from the Brighton Company, the clerks at these stations, which are on either side of Croydon, have fallen into a mode of working which the Brighton Company would do well to cause to he adopted at Croydon, even if they cannot carry out the system of working altogether by telegraph. As I have before stated,this is one of the precautions by the adoption of which this accident might probably have been prevented.

The stationmaster at Croydon did not make use of the telegraph, as he might have done, after the passage of the first half of the excursion twin with the red tailboard attached to it, indicating that a special train would follow, in order to ascertain when it was coming ; nor did he make use of the telegraph after the four ordinary trains had followed, to ascertain whether the special train might still be expected ; but, looking at the notice thus given in a different light from that in which the two signalmen of the station viewed it, he states that he no longer expected the special train. This, however, is not very material, as, if even he had expected it, although llc would not have gone to his dinner; yet he would not, according to his own account, have acted differently in any way to the course pursued, and his presence would not therefore have prevented the accident. It is not admitted by the Brighton Company that the stationmaster's impressions in regard to his obligations and duties are erroneous ; and instead, therefore, of remarking on his neglect to adopt all the means in his power to prevent accident, and to ensure the public safety, I must direct my remarks towards the system of the Brighton Company.

That Company appears to take their stand thus. They allege that the Croydon station being protected by a semaphore signal to the south, which is in all cases plainly visible from a distance of at least 786 yards, and which is itself 373 yards from the semaphore at the north of the. station, no train, either of their own or of the South Eastern Railway Company, has any right to run against any obstruction which may exist at the north of the station, even though the distant signal which is provided for the further protection of the southern part of the station, may show the "all right” signal. This may be true, but it has been amply and unfortunately proved by the occurrence of many previous accidents on various railways, that the mere exhibition of a signal, even if it be sufficient one, is not of itself, in all cases, enough to cause drivers to stop their trains, and it stands to reason that the fact of the “ all right" signal being shown by the distant signal post, whilst danger is indicated from the semaphore, is not likely to increase the caution of a driver. In fact, all experience goes to prove that signals alone must not be depended upon more than can be possibly avoided, however valuable they may be as auxiliary instruments, in the working of railways, but that it is also necessary to keep main lines clear for the approach of trains, and, in order to do this, it is essential that the times of their approach should be previously known. These remarks apply generally to all railways, but they arc particularly forcible in regard to the portion of railway now referred to, because, over this portion, special trains are run continually, by both the Brighton and South Eastern companies, without any previous notice having been given, and at very high speeds, which are but little abated, if at all, as a rule, in passing through stations. The electric telegraph, fortunately, offers a means of warning stations of the approach of such trains, and if it be not made use of, accidents must, under these circumstances, be expected, whenever a driver, from want of judgment or any other cause, neglects to pull up his train in sufficient time, in obedience to a danger signal.

I found, in the course of this investigation, that the views expressed by the officers of the Brighton Company were different from those which I entertained, in respect to the distance which would be required for stopping a train of the dimensions of that now referred to, when travelling at a high speed. I therefore requested that some experiments might be tried by which information on this subject might be afforded: and I will now detail the valuable and interesting results which were obtained, in consequence of the liberal and zealous manner in which these experiments were performed by the officers and servants of the two Companies.

Two trains mere prepared on the 12th instant, one by the South Eastern Company, and the other by the Brighton Company, each of them nearly similar to the train which caused the accident, and composed as follows:

Weights of train, Brighton total 175.17.0. tonnes, weights on wheels acted on by breaks total 29.15.1 tonnes.

Weights of train, S. Eastern total 170.16.1. tonnes, weights on wheels acted on by breaks totals 29.1.2 tonnes. 

The weights above given were determined by weighing each vehicle after the experiments were concluded, in the state in which they then were. The above weights include the load which was distributed throughout the carriages to represent the weight of the passengers, some 500 in number, who were in the second half of the excursion train.

Four experiments were tried, two with each train ; no person knew before hand where the train would commence to pull up ; but I accompanied the engine for the purpose of giving the signal on each occasion to the driver, who then shut off his stem1 and for the breaks as he would do in practice. The whole of the experiments were tried on a falling gradient of 1 in 264, at the approach to the Croydon station. Each train started in the first instance from Reigate Junction, and ample space was allowed for getting up the speed. In the last two experiments, the speed was the greatest that could be attained with the engines employed coupled to trains of such large dimensions.

In the first experiment, which was with the train of the South Eastern Company, the last mile was performed in 65 seconds, or at the rate of 55.38 miles per hour, and, on the signal being given, the steam was shut off and the train was stopped in 2077 yards, by the application of the tender break, and two van breaks, but without the engine having been reversed.

In the second experiment, which was with the train of the Brighton Company, the last mile was performed in 66.5 seconds, or at the rate of 54.13 miles per hour, and, on the signal being given, the steam was shut off, and the train was stopped in 1832 yards, by the application of the tender break, and two van breaks, but without the engine having been reversed.

In the third experiment, which was with the train of the South Eastern Company, the last mile was performed in 66 seconds, or at the rate of 54.54 miles per hour, and on the signal being given, the steam was shut off, the engine reversed, the steam put on again, and the tender break, as well as the two van breaks, applied, when the train was stopped in 1790 yards, and in 2 minutes from the moment at which the signal was given. In this experiment, the driver reversed his engine before sounding his whistle, and a few seconds more than usual were thus perhaps lost, before the breaks were applied.

In the fourth experiment, which was with the train of the Brighton Company, the last mile was performed in 63 seconds, or at the rate of 57.14miles per hour, and on the signal being given, the steam was shut off, the engine reversed, the steam put on again, and the tender break and two van breaks applied, when the train was stopped in 1389 yards, and in 90 seconds from the moment at which the signal was given. In this experiment sand was scattered on the rails from the engine, which was not done in any of the other experiments, and from the state of preparation in which the servants of the Brighton Company appeared to be, and the alertness with which every exertion was made, after the signal was given to the driver to stop the train, I should be disposed to look upon 1389 yards as nearly the minimum distance in which such a train could be pulled up in practice.

The day was fine, the atmosphere clear, and the rails were as dry as they could be. If the rails had been in a greasy state, as is constantly the case in certain conditions of the atmosphere, these distances would, of course, have been materially increased.

In order to appreciate these experiments at their proper value, it should be remembered, that it was rather the interest of the South Eastern Company to show that the distance from which the south semaphore signal of the Croydon station could be seen by the driver of an approaching train was not sufficient to have prevented the late accident, whilst it would have been undoubtedly to the advantage of the Brighton Company to have shown that the train could have been pulled up considerably within that distance; and, although the experiments were made with perfect Fairness, it is hardly to be expected, but that these conflicting interests might have had some slight effect upon the alertness of the movements of the servants of the two Companies, by whom such interests are usually pretty well understood, and by whom much anxiety is, in most cases, felt for the success of the cause of their employers.

Taking these considerations into account, the results of the experiments do not present greater differences than might perhaps have been expected.

In the first two experiments,
The South Eastern train at 55.38 miles per hour, stopped in 2077 yards.

The Brighton train at 54.13 miles per hour, stopped in 1832 yards.

or the Brighton train at 1.25 miles per hour more than the South Eastern train, was stopped in 245 yards less distance than that train.

In the last two experiments,
The South Eastern train at 56.54 miles per hour, stopped in 1790 yards.

The Brighton train at -57.14 miles per hour stopped in 1389 yards,

or the Brighton train at 2.6 miles per hour more than the South Eastern train, was stopped in 401 yards less distance than that train, when the rails were sanded in the case of the Brighton train, and a few additional seconds were lost before the application of the breaks of the South Eastern train.

The increased power of retardation, in consequence of the action of the steam of the engine with the gearing reversed, caused the South Eastern train to be stopped in 287 yards less distance in the third experiment than in the first, and this number of yards would have been increased if the breaks had been sooner applied in the third experiment.

The sanding of the rails, in addition to the action of the engine with the gearing reversed, caused the Brighton train to be stopped in 443 yards less distance in the fourth experiment than in the second.

I will now apply the results of the experiments to the case of the collision under investigation.

For reasons which will be presently stated, the arms of the south semaphore signal of the Croydon station cannot be seen at so great a distance as the post to which they are fixed, at the particular time of day at which the accident occurred; but the distance from the point of collision to the point where the south semaphore post is first visible is 1518 yards, and the distance from the point of collision to the point where the arms are plainly visible is 1174 yards. Now it appears that in none of the experiments could the stoppage of the train be effected in the latter distance, and that it was only in one of them, the last, that it could be effected within the former distance, or 1518 yards, and then only 129 yards within that distance, although every preparation was made and all possible activity used, in favourable weather.

I believe that the proportion of break power used in these experiments was not much less than that frequently employed in the trains of both companies, and it would appear, if that be the case, to be highly desirable that additional facilities for stopping their heavy trains should be afforded when high speeds are permitted, particularly, as, in those states of the weather in which the rails become more slippery, the difficulty of stopping trains is most materially increased.

I will now refer to the question of the signals, in respect to the second precaution before alluded to. I found, from a personal inspection, during which marks were made to indicate distances that were afterwards measured by the servants of both companies, that the post of the south semaphore signal of the Croydon station could be first seen by an approaching up train from a distance of 1120 yards, but that at the particular time of day at which the accident occurred, the arms of this signal could not be distinguished plainly, at a greater distance on an engine, than 786 yards. At that distance, the top of the signal post is seen against the sky, but at a greater distance, it is seen against the Norwood Hills; and the effect of the sun and mist render it difficult to distinguish the position of the arms, which are not solid-or to see more than an ill defined appearance of redness, which would be still less easily seen from an engine travelling at speed. At 786 yards, however, the arms of this signal, when at danger, are plainly visible ; but at 603 yards, they are obscured by a bridge and aqueduct which are thrown across the line, and at 413 yards they are again plainly discernible. As the distance from the south semaphore to the point of collision is 388 yards, the driver of the excursion train had not any excuse for not seeing that the semaphore signal was at “danger,” at a point 1174 yards from the site of the collision ; and after it was obscured by the bridges, he might again have seen it at 801 yards from the site of the collision. It appears from the evidence that the driver was approaching the Croydon station at a rate not much under 60 miles an hour, as will be hereafter shown, and, as I have proved by actual experiment, that, at that speed, the driver could not have stopped his heavy train in 1174 yards, it is evident that the semaphore signal, of itself, did not provide sufficient warning to a train so constituted, and travelling at so high a speed. The distant signal had it shown danger, could have been plainly seen at a distance of 1985 yards from itself, and 1921 yards from the site of the collision, and might perhaps, as has been before remarked, have prevented the collision, because and South coast it appears by experiment, that the train might have been pulled up by the application of the breaks, as well as reversing the engine, within that distance. 

There is no doubt that the "danger" signal was exhibited from the south semaphore, and that the " all right" signal was shown from the distant signal, to the driver of the second portion of the excursion train ; and I must now explain the reasons as given by the Brighton Company forth is circumstance  It appears that the south semaphore is considered in the light of an auxiliary to the north semaphore, and that the distant signal is only used as an auxiliary to the south semaphore, and that the verbal instructions given to the signalman at the south semaphore, are, to show “ danger” from his semaphore whenever the line is obstructed near the north end of the station, and whenever the north semaphore is at “danger," but to leave his distant signal at "all right," unless when any shunting is going on at the station over the crossings, or unless a train at the station should extend over the crossing, which is 133 yards from the north semaphore. As this distant signal is also turned to danger, by a self-acting apparatus, y the passage of any train or engine, this man is further instructed not to set it at "all right," until such train or engine shall have proceeded past the north semaphore. It would thus appear, that an engine, having itself passed the distant signal, and turned it on, would be protected b it whilst taking water at the crane which is situated fifteen yards to the south of the north semaphore, but that an engine coming from the north to water at that crane would only be protected by the semaphore signals. It is clear that, acting under these instructions, the south signalman is not in any way to blame for not having set his distant signal at 'l danger," when, as in the present case, a ballast engine came on to the main line, from the north of the north semaphore, and was taking water at the crane fifteen yards from it. These instructions were neither written nor printed, and I have not any reason to believe that the driver of the South Eastern Company's train was acquainted with them. The practical working of them may be appreciated at its proper value, when it is considered that it justifies the signalman for eating his dinner quietly in his box, with his distant signal at "all right," when he had reason to expect a special train, without reference to any obstructions that might have occurred at the northern portion of his station; and when that "all right" signal could not but tend to encourage any spirit of recklessness which a driver might possess, and which is usually possessed by all men whose occupations appear to be attended with a more than ordinary amount of danger. Under these circumstances, I would venture to suggest to the Brighton Company, that it would he better that the "danger" signal should be exhibited from this distant signal whenever there is any obstruction at the Croydon station. And I would add, that in order to avoid any chance of misunderstanding in reference to these matters, it would appear to be better that the signalmen of this Company should be furnished with written or printed instructions, and that these instructions should be made known to the drivers of the South Eastern Company, particularly when, as in this instance, they are of an unusual nature. As it a pears that there are other distant signals on the Brighton Railway, at which the same method of working is adopted, I think it right to state that I intend these observations to apply to them, as well as to the Croydon distant signal.

In reference to the fact of the ballast engine having been found on the main line, on the arrival of the excursion train, I have to observe that no blame appears to attach either to the driver who brought the engine on to the main line, or to the signalman who permitted him to do so. They were both acting up to their instructions, which simply required that, under such circumstances, the semaphore signal should be set at danger. But, as has been remarked from various sources since the occurrence of this accident, it would not be difficult to provide the means of watering a ballast engine at that spot without bringing it on the main line at all; and the engine would not probably have been allowed by the signalman to ham been there at that moment, if more formal notice had given of the approach of the excursion train. And here I must remark, that when, in future, the South Eastern Company do run excursion trains on the Brighton Company's line, and find it necessary to divide them, it would perhaps be better that they should forward by the first portion, a written statement of the fact to each stationmaster on the way, with a notification as to the probable time at which the next portion will follow, as all uncertainty to which a tailboard alone might give rise, would then be at an end. As it was, no  precaution of any sort or kind appears to have been taken in this respect by the servants of the South Eastern Company at Ashford, and had it not been for the thoughtfulness of the guard of the first half of the excursion train, and of the assistant of the stationmaster at Redhill, by whom the tailboard was affixed to the first half, no notice whatever would have been received at Croydon of the approach of the second half of the excursion train, with the exception of the "D special 12.53,”which was entered in the book at the telegraph office, and which only preceded the train by four minutes. It certainly cannot be considered as tending to the safety of the public that a train so circumstanced should, considering the uncertainty that appears to have existed in regard to the regulations, approach the station of another Company at a rate not much under sixty miles an hour-if, indeed, it is justifiable under any circumstances with so great a weight of train and so moderate a proportion of break power. I cannot, however, impute any great amount of recklessness to the driver on this account, as I understand that both the Brighton Company and the South Eastern Company,and particularly the latter, frequently run special trains over this portion of the line without previous notice, and without any great restrictions as to the speed at which they pass the stations, unless where there are facing points.

But in considering the measures which ought to have been taken on this occasion for the security of the public by the South Eastern Company, in reference to the then existing circumstances and conditions under which the Brighton Railway was worked, the great question arises as to whether these two Companies, running their trains as they do in quick succession, and it might, almost be said, promiscuously, over the same portion of’ railway, conduct the traffic jointly and unitedly in such a manner as is best calculated to provide for the safety of their passengers. Unfortunately, the past history of the accidents which have occurred on the portions of railway which they both make use of, prove that this is not the case, and it is to be observed that this is not the first collision which has been imputed by the Brighton Company to the recklessness of the South Eastern Company's drivers, and by the South Eastern Company to the management of the Brighton Company’s signals. 'I'his result can hut be attributable to the diffcucnt mode of working practised by the two Companies.

In the course of this inquiry, I have observed that there is considerable difference in their mode of working ; that there is a want of agreement as to the best modes of working, and that there is a want of harmony between the two Companies ; but there is no feature with which I have been so forcibly struck as the apparent ignorance, or at least the alleged want of knowledge, that exists on the part of those high in authority in each Company, as to the actual practice and the success attending such practice, of working by the other Company. The printed rules and regulations of the South Eastern Company are more full, but there does not seem to be much essential difference between them and those of the Brighton Company, except in the mode of working their lines by telegraph ; the Brighton Company appear, however, to prefer the use, in some cases, of verbal instructions-a course which, whilst unsatisfactory for many other reasons, cannot have so great an effect in ensuring care and consideration by those who issue the instructions, any more than precision in the instructions themselves, or direct responsibility on, and therefore greater attention from, those by whom the instructions are to bc carried out.

The portion of railway between Redhill and London is worked over by both Companies, under mutual compromises and agreements, and it would therefore appear to be highly desirable that it should be worked under regulations assimilated as nearly as possible to those of each of the two Companies. It rests, I believe, principally with the Brighton Company to sanction such an arrangement, and they would no doubt very justly reply that it would be dangerous to them to have this portion of their railway worked differently from the remainder. The only satisfactory mode, then, of accomplishing such an object would be by the assimilation of the regulations of the two Companies ; and I am not aware of any reason of importance that could be urged against this measure, excepting the differences of opinion which exist amongst those in whom the principal executive authority of the Companies is placed as to working by telegraph. I believe that the antagonistic feeling which has existed between these Companies is on the decline, and I therefore hope that the time may not be far distant when the same regulations may be enforced upon the two lines, similarly circumstanced as they are, in many ways, as to interests, position, and the nature of their traffic ; but, in the meanwhile, 1would recommend earnestly,  for the consideration of the directors, the appointment of a joint committee, under whom the working of the traffic on all the parts of the line which arc used and South Coast by both Companies should be arranged, in order that, at least, each Company may bc kept intimately, continually, and fully informed of whatever instructions it may be considered expedient to issue for the guidance of the servants of the other Company. In order to show more clearly the necessity for the adoption of some measure of this nature, I will state the portions of the railway between London and Redhill Junction which are respectively owned and worked by each of the two Companies. From London to Greenwich Junction, one mile fifty-nine chains, is owned and worked by the South Eastern Company, From Greenwich Junction to the south of Stoat's Nest, thirteen miles twenty-six chains, by the Brighton Company. From the south of Stoat's Nest to Redhill, five miles and sixty chains, by the South Eastern Company.

I have only now to remark more particularly upon the train of the South Eastern Railway Company, by which this accident was occasioned, the second half of the excursion train.

It appears that this train was composed of engine, tender, 20 carriages, and two break vans, weighing altogether sonic 150 tons, and that it conveyed about 500 people, or upwards of 22 tons of passengers. According to the evidence of the inspector who was in charge of it, this train was going at the rate of 20 to 25 miles an hour as it approached the Croydon station, and when the south semaphore signal was found to be set at danger ; but the evidence of this man is highly discreditable to him, for it is proved by the tide surveyor at Folkestone, who was a passenger in the train, and who timed its speed by the mile posts, with a seconds hand watch, that the last mile before coming to Croydon was passed in "scarcely a minute," so that the train must have been going at. the rate of 60 miles an hour when within three quarters of a mile of Croydon station. This evidence is corroborated by that of the telegraph clerks, by whom the train was signalled from Stoat’s Nest to Croydon, and from Croydon to Forest Hill ; as, from the entries in their books it appears that only four minutes were consumed in the passage of the train between the period at which it was passing Stoat's Nest, and that of its arrival at Croydon. The fact of the great speed of the train is also corroborated by other evidence, though it is not admitted by the guard who was with it. It is not, then, a matter of surprise, that there should have been difficulty in stopping a train of these dimensions at that particular spot; but I would suggest for the consideration of the South Eastern Company, that, looking to the results of the experiments before referred to, it might be desirable with trains of this nature, and particularly when running on the line of another Company, that they should he furnished with a larger proportion of break power, even when speeds of considerably less than 60 miles an hour are employed.

Upon the conduct of the driver on this occasion, or the particular circumstances under which he was individually placed, I shall refrain from remarking to a greater extent than I have already done, as, having been pronounced guilty of manslaughter by the juries of the coroners before whom the causes of the deaths of the passengers were investigated, he is now awaiting his trial for that offence.

I will now, in concluding this report, repeat, summarily, the principal recommendations which I have felt it my duty to make for the consideration of the directors of the South Eastern, and London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway Companies.

1st. In regard to the two Companies, that they should agree upon a code of regulations, and a system of working, common to both.

2d. That in the meantime, the management of the portion of railway over which the trains of the two Companies run, should be placed in the hands of a joint committee.

3. In regard to the Brighton Company, that they should make more me of the electric telegraph.

4. In regard to the Brighton Company, that their servants should be instructed to keep the main h e clear for the approach of special or other trains, and to use the telegraph for the purpose of ascertaining when they maybe expected

5. In regard to the Brighton Company, that the system which appears to prevail on parts of their line, of causing main signals and distant signals, under certain circumstances, to allow contrary instructions, should be discontinued. 

6. In regard to the South Eastern Company, that the amount of break power on their trains should he increased, in cases when heavy trains are run at high speed.

7. In regard to the South Eastern Company, that, at least until the system oworking on the Brighton Railway be altered more formal notice should be given when it is necessary to dividc any special trains which may be run over that railway.

 

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