IGNITING THE FLAME OF UNITY

THE HISTORY OF THE

 BRIGHTON BRANCH OF A.S.L.E.F.

  

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VICTORIA STATION

27th AUGUST 1910

Involving Enginemen 

Driver J.P. Burbage & his Fireman George Christopher White &

Driver J. Reed & his Fireman N.C. Clayton

Extracted and adapted from the report by

P.G. Von Donop Lt. Col., R.E.

A collision occurred on the 27th August between a passenger train and 14 empty carriage train at Victoria Station, on the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway. In this case, as an empty carriage train, consisting of an engine and 14 coaches, was being drawn out of Victoria Station on to the down main line, it was derailed at a crossing, and came into collision with a portion of the 9.30 p.m. up passenger train from West Croydon to Victoria, which was entering the station at that time on the up local line. Three passengers in the latter train were injured, the injuries in one case being of a serious nature. The rear guard of this train was also injured.

The up passenger train consisted of an engine and seven vehicles, and the three rear vehicles of it were all considerably damaged. Some of the vehicles of this train were slightly derailed, but they appear to have been pulled on the line again, as subsequent to the accident they were all found to be standing on their proper rails.

The engine of the empty carriage train was a six-wheels-coupled tank engine with one pair of trailing radial wheels. It was fitted with the Westinghouse automatic brake working blocks on the six coupled wheels, and with a hand brake working the same blocks.

The engine of the 9.30 pm. up train from West Croydon was a four-wheels-coupled engine, with one trailing pair of wheels. It was fitted with the Westinghouse automatic brake, working blocks on all the coupled wheels, and with a hand brake working the same blocks. 

Description.

Victoria Station, near which this accident occurred, is provided with nine platform lines, the general directions of which are approximately north and south, No. 1 platform line lying on the east side .of the station, and No. 9 on the west side.

There are two pairs of running lines approaching Victoria Station from the south, viz. the up and down main lines and the up and down local lines ; the former lie on the west side of the latter, and in each case the up line is on the west side of the corresponding down line. Connections are provided for running from both the up lines to all the platform lines, and similar connections are provided for running from any of the platform lines to either of the down lines.

The empty carriage train concerned in this collision started from No. 6 platform line to run out of the station on the down main line, and the up passenger train was approaching the station on the up local line, to run into No. 5 platform line.

The south signal-box, from which the points and signals controlling the running of both these trains were worked, is situated on the west side of the station, about 80 yards to the south of the south end of No. 6 platform line. This box is worked on what is known as the electro-mechanical system, the points being moved mechanically by hand levers and the signals being actuated electrically by slides.

Platform line No. 6, which is 420 yards in length is provided at its southern end with two platform starting signals, one (No. 198) for running on to the down main line, and the other (No. 207) for running on to the down local line. Close to these signals there is on No. 6 line a connection which is facing to down trains, and which leads to a small coal siding lying between Nos. 5 and 6 platform lines. These facing points are fitted with n bolt and bar of the usual description, and the inter locking between the levers and slides prevents either of these signals from being lowered unless the bolt has been inserted so that the points are properly locked. After starting from No. 6 platform line a trailing has to Ton through several connections, which are not concerned in this accident, until it finally reaches a facing point, situated 208 yards from the platform starting signal, where the line bifurcates, the right-hand connection leading to the down main line, and the left-hand connection to the down local line.

Just ahead of this facing point there is on the clown main line a diamond crossing, due to a connection leading from platform lines Nos. 8 and 9 to the clown local line, and this crosing is fitted with movable diamoads, which are worked by No. 23 lever in the south siwnal-box. When this lever is normal, these diamonds lie in their proper positions for a t r i h to run through them on the clown main line, but when that lever is pulled, the road is set for trains to run from either of the above mentioned platform lines to the down local line. These diamonds are fitted with the usual facing point lock, this lock being worked by No. 24 lever. For a train running on to the down main line, No, 23 lever should therefore be normal, and No. 34 hhonld be pulled. 

Evidence

J. P. Burbage, driver, states : I have been 32 years in the Company's service. I was approved as driver 19 years ago. I came on dnty at 3.5 p m on the 27th August to work till about 2.0 a.m. J had no time off duty in between. My engine was a four-wheels-coupled tank engine, and was running chimney first at the time of the collision. My engine was fitted with the Westinghouse automatic brake, working blocks on all coupled wheels, and with a hand-brake working the same blocks. My brakes were in good order. I was cnqaged in taking the 9.30 pm. "up" train from West Croydon into Victoria Station, and me approached that station at about 10.11pm. 1was approaching the station on the " up " local line, and we were to run into No. 5 platform, "B" section. All my signals were lowered for me to run into the station. We had been stopped outside Victoria about two minutes and then the signals had been lowered for us. The first I knew of the collision was hearing the brakes go on my own train, and I heard subsequently that it was the rear guard who had put the brakes on. My train then came to a stand. At the time the brakes were applied I estimate the speed of my train at about five miles per hour. I had come in very cautiously as I knew there were workmen working about there. After the train came to a stand I heard a South-Eastern shunter shout out "There is a woman on the line." and my mate looked round and said there was something the matter with the train. I then got off my engine and I saw that something very bad had happened to my train, but I did not know at the time what had been the cause of it. I cannot say for certain that I ever saw the train of empty carriages coming out of the station. My brakes appeared to act very well. 

George Christopher White, fireman, states : I have been about 13 years in the service of the Company. I was passed as fireman about 10 yews ago. 1 was working on the 27th August with driver Burbage, and I was working the same hours as he did. I was on his engine when the 9.30 p.m. up train was approaching Victoria. We were stopped outside Victoria Station by signal, and we were kept standing there two or three minutes. The signals were then lowered for  us to run into No. 5 platform,”B”section, and we then proceeded to run into the station. The first I knew of this collision was feeling that the train was pulling up. I did not know at the time what it was that brought my train to a stand. I looked out before we had come to a stand and I a woman get out, and I told my mate of it; he then applied his brake, but at that time we were nearly at a standstill. My mate then went back and found out what had happened. At the time came to a stand I had no idea that me hail been in collision with mother train, I did not myself see the train of empty carriages  coming out of Victoria station. I estimate that our speed was four of five miles an hour at the time that our train was stopped, the brakes appeared to act well when they were applied.

Edwin Taylor, guard, states : I have been six years in the service of the Company and I have been employed as guard for two years. I came on duty on August 27t'h at 1.40 p.m. to work till 11.45pm. I was head guard of the 9.30 pm. " up " train from West Croydon to Victoria, and I was riding in the front vehicle of the train. My train consisted of the following vehicles attached to the engine in the order given :-

Third bogie brake, 8 wheels. Composite bogie, 8 wheels. Composite bogie, 8 wheels. First bogie, 8 wheels. Composite bogie, 8 wheels. Composite bogie, S wheels. Third bogie brake, 8 wheels.

These vehicles were all fitted with the Westinghouse automatic brake, working blocks on all their wheels ; the automatic brake was in good order. I remember our train approaching Victoria Station ; we had been brought to a stand at the Victoria south signal and stood there for about a moment ; the signals were then lowered for us to run into the station, and the driver then took the train on ; that was about 10.12 p.m. The first I knew of the collision was feeling that my train was stopping. The train appeared to me to be stopped by the application of the automatic brake ; I had not applied this brake, and at the time I did not know who had applied it. I then looked out of my brake on the off side ; I saw that some of the doors were open. I got out of my van on the off side and told the driver not to move the train. I then walked half way down the train and heard some screaming. I then heard a train coming out of Victoria Station, and I at once gave a red light to stop it. I then found out that another train had been in collision with ours. I knew nothing about the collision at all until my train had come to a stand. I estimate the speed of our train at from 3 to 5 miles an hour at the time that the brakes were applied. The brakes appeared to act well. I saw nothing of the empty train previous to the collision.  

J. H. Williams, guard, states : I have been XI the service of the Company about 41/2 years, and I have been a guard for 2 1/2 years. I came on duty: at 7.40 p.m. on the 27th August to work till 3.0 a m. on the 28th. I was acting as rear guard to the n.30 pm. "Up" train from West Croydon, and I was riding in the rear bake van. I remember our train approaching Victoria Station. We were stopped outside Victoria Station, bnt the signal came off directly and our train then proceeded on towards the station. The first I knew of  this collision was hearing a crash. I at once looked crashing against the left-hand side of the vehicles of my train. I at once rushed to the Westinghouse, but I was thrown right across the brake before I could apply it. On recovering I applied the Westinghouse brake. I did not notice that the blocks were applied to the wheels of my van before: I myself applied the Westinghouse brake ; I did not know quite what happened to me then until I found myself on the ballast. None of the vehicles of my train were derailed by the collision, though the four rear ones were damaged. I had seen nothing of the empty carriage train until the collision occurred. I examined my train after the collision and it appeared to me that none of the Westinghouse brake couplings between the vehicles were broken. I estimate the speed of our train at the time I heard the crash from three to four miles an hour. At the time I saw the empty carriage train it appeared to be moving slowly. 

J. Reed, driver, states : I have been 29 pars in the service of the Company, and I have been a driver for about 19 years. I came on duty on August 27th at 3.30 p.m. to work till about 1a.m. on the 28th : at 3.28 p.m. I took over charge of an engine, my engine was a six-wheels coupled tank with one trailing pair of radial wheels. My engine was fitted with the Westinghouse automatic brake working blocks on the six coupled wheels and with a hand brake working the same blocks. 317brakes were in perfect order. I was engaged in various duties until about 10 p.m. when I was in the shunting sidings at Victoria Station. The shunter in charge told me about 10.5 p.m. that I was required down at Victoria Station, and as I was passing the signal-box on my wag into the station, the inspector told me that it was a train of empties for Eardley. When I reached the station I was coupled on to a train of empties which were standing on NO. 6 platform line. After the guard had seen that everything was all right I received the signal to start. I received a green signal from the rear guard, and that was repeated to me for the guard by Mr. Tickner. Mr. Tickner was standing on the platform ; he was three lengths behind me. 1 also received a signal to start from the south signal-box. The signal which I received from the south box was a verbal one, and I believe it was given to me by the inspector. The words I heard were " Right away off No. 6 " and it was repeated twice. I at once started the train. I cannot say whether any of the platform starting signals were lowered for me because I was standing three lengths ahead of them. I saw that the ( 'down " main signal was "off" for me, so I knew that we were going on the "down " main line. I h ,l got a little more than 100yards when the engine left the road ; I had no idea at the time what caused it to leave the road. After the engine left the road, it slewed round and became foul of the vehicles of an incoming train. My engine was running between six and seven miles an hour at the time it was derailed, and I think that we had practically stopped at the time we fouled the incoming train. The incoming train was coming very slowly, and 1should estimate its speed at from six to seven miles an hour. Directly the derailment occurred I turned off steam and applied the brakes with full my brakes worked very well. I believe that two of the vehicles of my train mere derailed in addition to the engine, I am very often engaged in taking trains of empty carriages out of Victoria I generally get the platform starting when I am starting from the platform. ‘lo not ever remember having started away from before with my engine standing ahead of the platform starting signal. I think that my train came to a stand before the incoming train.

N. C. Clayton, fireman, states: I have been about 10years in the service of the Company and I have been a passed fireman for about eight years. On the 27th Augnst I was working with driver Reed and I was working the same hours as he did. I was on his engine when it was attached to an empty train in Victoria Station about 10.0pm. I remember starting out of Victoria with that train, my engine was rnnning bunker first at the time. The signals which we received to start that train were a signal from the signal box and a light from the rear guard. The signal which we received from the signal box was a verbal one "right away from No. 6 " the advanced signal on the bridge was also lowered for us. I cannot say whether the platform starting signals were lowered for us, I did not see these signals because we were standing beyond them, Before we had got very far the engine come off the road. We were then moving at about a walking pace. After jumping about over the metals we struck an incoming train. The moment our engine was derailed both my mate and myself applied the brakes, my driver also turned off steam.   

F. Painter, guard, states: I have been 19 1/2 years in the service of the Company, and I have been a guard for18years. I came on duty at 7am. on the 27th August to work till about 5.30 p.m.. but owing to an accident at Victoria Station my turn of duty was entirely altered, and I should not have come oE duty till about 10.30 p m . I did not call anybody's attention to the fact that I was working these long hours. The empty carriage train consisted of 14 vehicles; I had come into Victoria Station on that train which had formed the 7.55 p.m. "up" train, Brighton to Victoria, where it arrived at 9.59 p.m., and we had come to rest on No. 6 platform line. There was another train on the same line ahead of us ; I cannot say whether the engine of my train stopped close to the train in front of it. After the passengers had left the train I was going with it to Eardley Sidings. The engine which had brought my train into Victoria Station was uncoupled at the rear, and another engine was coupled on to the front of the train. I did not myself see it coupled on. Inspector Quinton gave me the signal to start. He was standing close to me at the time. I then gave the signal to the driver to start. It was a green lamp signal. The train then started. There are two stating signals provided to No. 6 platform. I cannot remember whether these signals were lowered or not. I usually look at my signals, but I can- not remember whether these mere lowered or not. When my train had got about half-way across the yard it came to a sudden stop. When my train came to a stand I got out and went to the rear of it, to see if any of the pipes had burst ; I found nothing wrong there, and I then proceeded to the front, and when about half-way up the train I discovered that we had been in collision with an incoming train. The engine was derailed and the leading vehicle of the train, and also the leading bogie of the second vehicle. I think that our train was travelling at from six to eight miles nn hour before it was stopped. I saw nothing of the incoming train until after the collision.

Mr. Tickner, states : I am station superintendent at Victoria ant1 have held that appointment two years and two months. I was at the end of No. 6 platform when the empty carriage train started away on the evening of tile 27th August. When the engine was coupled up to the empty carriage train the engine was standing just opposite the coal stage, and the engine and two leading vehicles were ahead of the platform starting signals. Before the engine was coupled up to the train I knew that there would not be room on No. 6 platform line to draw the train forward, so that it would be all behind the platform starting signals. I warned the signalman and I warned him that me wanted to start a train from No. 6 clown the main line, and before I left the signal-box, he repeated to me the words Right away off No. 6 down the main." I left the signal-box and went to the driver. I told the driver that we should not be able to get the starting signal off for him, but that he would get a hand signal from the signal-box, at the same time I told him that he was going down the main line. I then went down on the platform and repeated the same thing to guard Painter, and also to platform inspector Quinton. I also saw that the advanced signal was off for the train before it started. I did not myself give any signal for the train to start. I saw the guard give a signal to the driver, and I believe that I saw a green hand signal given from the signal-box. My impression was that when the train started everything was right for it. It is a very exceptional thing for a train to start away without getting the platform starting signal, but I have known it previously done. I had to run this train into No.6 platform, as our platforms, as was possible. I have never represented that these was ever any necessity to start a train away without its getting the platform signal. It was not possible for the platform starting signal to have been lowered on account of the train standing over the points. I did not take any special precaution to see that the road was properly sat for the train. 

C. Stanford, signalman, states; - I have been 43 years in the service of the Company, and I have been a signalman for 35 years. I came on duty at 10 p.m. on the 27th August to work till 6 a.m. on the 28th. I remember there was an empty carriage train standing on No.6 platform line about 10 p m . on the 27th. I knew that this empty carriage train had to be taken to the Eardley Sidings and I knew that an engine had been coupled up to it for that purpose. Mr Tickner had himself come to my signal-box about this train. He told me that the train vas to go to Eardley and that it was to be got away by means of a hand signal. Previous to that I told Mr. Tickner that I could not get the platform starting signal off because the train was standing on the bars. About 10.30 p m . I signalled the train to the signal-box at Grosvenor Road, and it was accepted. I then lowered my advanced signal at Edbury Bridge for it. The assistant signalman then came to me and said “I am all right for that train to go to down the main,” and he was going to give   a light out of the box. I said Wait a minute, is your road right for the train “ and he said " Yes it is quite right." I then gave a signal to Mr. Tickner for the train to go, I gave a white signal out of the window of the box, I also shouted out “ Right away Mr. Tickner." Before the train started I had looked at the levers at my end of the box and had seen that they were all right for the train. After the collision the assistant signalman informed me that he had left number 23 over, and that he ought to have put it back. Lever No. 23 works the movable frogs on the diamond crossing and that lever should have been put back before the train should run along the down main. Lever No.23 is at the south end of the box which is worked by the assistant signalman while I work the north end of the box. It would not have been possible to lower the platform starting signal unless No. 23 lever was put back. If it had been possible to use the platform starting signal, at would have detected that the road was not properly set. The fact of No. 23 lever not having been put back entirely accounts for the empty train having run into the incoming train. Trains are not often started from the platforms ar Victoria without the platform starting signal, bnt it is occasionally done and especially in busy times. The night of the 27th August was a very busy one at this station on account of there having been a mishap at the station that morning and the traffic that evening was very much more congested than usual. I have always previously relied on the assistance signalman, and he has never made any mistake like this before. The assistant signalman Hayller has been working off and on in my box for about three years, and I know him well, I have always found him a very reliable signalman.

Recalled later 

At the time that the empty carriage train was running out of No.6 platform line the signals were all lowered for the 9.30 p.m. train to run into No.5 platform line

John Hayllar, assistant signalman, states: I have been 25 years in the service of the Company. I have been a signalman for 13 years, and acting relief signalman five years before that. I am now employed at Victoria Station alternatively in the north and south boxes. On the 27th August I was employed in the south signal box, and came on duty at 8 p.m. to work till 11 p.m. I remember that there was an empty carriage train standing at No. 6 platform about 10 p.m. that evening. Signalman Stanford received, in my hearing, some special instructions from Mr. Tickner about getting this train away. He was to get the train away as soon as he could, and Stanford said that he could not get the platform starting signal for it to go away, so Mr. Tickner said he would go out and see that the train was all right. Mr. Tickner then gave him orders to go away when we were right in the box. Mr. Tickner left the box. Immediately after Mr. Tickner left the box, Stanford asked me whether I was right down at my end of the box, and I told him “Yes.” I knew at that time that the train had to go “down main, and I thought that all my road was then correctly set for the down main. i went to give the train a green light out of the window, and Stanford asked me again whether it was all right at my end of the box. I again told him that it was, then Stanford called out “Right away off No.6” I had put my lamp out to give the signal, and I brought it in again. I then saw the train start. I saw the train stop, and I heard my levers jump, and then examined my levers again and saw that I had made a mistake in one., viz., 23. No. 23 was over, and it should have been normal. The fact of that lever being over entirely accounts for this collision. I have been working off and on in the south box for about four years. I always take the south end of that box, and I consider that I am thoroughly acquainted with the working of the south encl. For the train to run out of the down main 23 ought to have been normal and 24 ought to have been pulled. I think I made the mistake of pulling 23 thinking it was 24,  that 23 was pulled and 24 was not pulled    

Conclusion

The empty train concerned in this accident had formed the 7.55 p.m. up train from Brighton to London, and it had arrived at 9.59 p.m. at Victoria Station, where it had been brought to rest on the southern portion of No. 6 platform line. The station was on this evening considerably congested, which was mainly clue to a derailment which had occurred that morning, and which had interfered with the traffic ; there was consequently another train occupying the northern portion of No. 6 platform line, and the Brighton train cold not therefore be drawn forward into the station as far as usual in the position in which it came to rest, its two rear vehicles were standing just to the south of the starting signals, and the third vehicle was standing on the locking bar of the facing points, which, as described above, were situated just opposite those signals.

After the passengers had been discharged, the empty train was to be drawn back on the clown main line to Eardley sidings, and with that object the engine which had brought it to Victoria was uncoupled, and another engine was coupled on to what had been the rear of the train.

Mr. Tickner, the station superintendent, was present on No. 6 platform when this train had arrived, and he realised that owing to the position of its vehicles it would not be possible for the platform starting signal to be lowered for it to start back out of the station. The reason for this was that lever No. 74, which worked both the bar and the lock of the facing points, and which had been pulled when the train entered the station, had to be put back again into its normal position before No. 198 signal could be lowered ; owing however, to there being a vehicle standing on the bar, lever No.74 could not be moved, and consequently signal No. 198 could not be made use of. Mr. Tickner accordingly went to the south signal-box, and warned the signalman in charge that the train mould have to be started by means of a hand signal, and without the use of the fixed signal ; he then returned to the platform, and warned the driver, guard, and platform inspector as to what was going to be done with regard to starting the train.

There were three signalmen on duty in the south signal-box at the time, and two of these were concerned in the movements of this train, viz. : signalman Stanford, who was in charge of the box, and who was working the levers at the north end of it, and signalman Hayllar, who was similarly working the levers at the south end of it. Stanford received the instructions from Mr. Tickner, and accordingly, when the train had been duly offered to and accepted from Grosvenor Road signal-box, he lowered the advance starting signal for it. Hayllar then said to Stanford, I am all right for that train to go down the main," and he was about to give a lamp signal for it to start, when Stanford said to him, “Wait a minute ; is your road right for the train ?" to which Hayllar replied, " Yes, it is quite right." Stanford then gave a lamp signal out of the window of the box for the train to start, and also shouted out, "Right away, Mr. Tickner." The train accordingly started, but on reaching the crossing, just ahead of the facing points leading to the down local line, it was derailed to the left of the down main line, and consequently fouled the vehicles of the 9.30 p.m. up train from West Croydon, which was at that moment entering the station on the up local line.

Immediately after the derailment the cause of it was at once discovered in the signal- box. No. 23 lever, which works the movable diamonds of the through crossing, an which should have been in its normal position, was found to be pulled, and, owing to the position in which the diamonds were therefore lying, the engine was deflected to the left, towards the up local line, and consequently fouled the carriages of the up train, which was at that moment entering the station on that line. The driver of the empty carriage train himself thinks that; his engine was derailed before it fouled the incoming train, and that may possibly have been the case, but the marks on the line appear to point to the derailment not having occurred until the collision actually took place.

It was also found that No. 24 lever, which works the lock of the facing point, ad which should have been pulled, was in its normal position, but the only effect of this latter mistake was that the facing point was not locked when the train ran through it. Signalman Hayllar candidly admits that the error was his, and it is evident, as he himself suggests, that he made the mistake of pulling lever No. 23 instead of No. 24. His mistake would of course have been discovered it the starting signal had been made use of, the slide working that signal could not have been pulled unless lever No.23 had been normal and lever No.24 had been pulled.

The immediate cause of this accident mustherefore be regarded as signalman Hayllar’s mistake in pulling the wrong lever. Men are all liable to make mistake, but on this occasion Hayllar was fully aware that the starting signal was not to be made use of, and that on that account it was incumbent on him to take special care to see that all his levers were in their right positions. Hayllar clearly did not exercise the necessary care in the matter, and lie must therefore be held largely responsible for this accident.

But it is specially for the purpose of guarding against such human errors that mechanical inter locking is provided between the levers working the connections and those working the signals. This interlocking ensures that a signal cannot be lowered until the road on which the train has to run is properly set. This security is a most salutary one, and it is especially needful when a train in starting from a platform line has, as on this occasion, to run through large number of connections before it is clear of the station lines. In such cases therefore it is essential that the starting signal should be lowered as a check on any mistakes made in setting the road, and had the starting signal been made use of on this occasion, Hayllar's mistake would have been immediately detected. It is therefore, I consider, the omission to make use of the starting signal which must he regarded as the primary cause of this accident, and the Company should be urged to take steps to ensure that trains shall never be allowed to start from the platform lines at Victoria Station without the starting signal being duly lowered.

I would further suggest that advantage be taken of the fact of this crossing being fitted with movable diamonds to provide some further precaution by means of inter-locking. The movable diamonds be normally set for the down main line, and lever No. 23, which works them, is only required to be pulled when the lever No. 26 working the facing points of the connection leading from Platforms 8 and 9 to the down local is pulled. No. 23 lever might therefore be locked until No. 26 is pulled, or, in other words, lever No. 23 night be preceded by lever No. 26. This would provide an additional safeguard. and the Company might be asked to consider the feasibility of carrying it out. 

 

 

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