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Author Topic: OTD - 8th January (1991) - Cannon Street Accident  (Read 534 times)
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« on: January 08, 2022, 01:26:53 am »

A buffer stop collision of the 07:58 commuter train from Sevenoaks into Cannon Street - a line and service my Dad commuted on for many years and that I was pretty familiar with, and the 4EPBs that were involved - though by 8th January 1991 Dad had retired and I was near Devizes. 

Reading the report at I see many old features which are characteristic of some previous accidents such as a question as to whether the driver was sober (or under the effect of alcohol or cannabis) - noting too the Eltham Well Hall rail crash, caused by an intoxicated train driver, kills six people and injures 126. (11th Jun 1972)

New aspects entered such as computer simulation looking at the effect of the crash on the passengers in the train, and witnesses asking if they can claim expenses for attending the enquiry to give evidence.  The refusal of the driver to give evidence was also a new one on me.

"From the evidence available to me I can find no defect in either the braking or traction system, either permanent or intermittent, which would have prevented brakes from operating effectively. Therefore, I must conclude that [the driver] failed to make the proper brake application and that by his omission he was responsible for the accident. I am unable to reach any firm conclusion as to the reasons for his error or as to whether [the driver]'s use of cannabis was the cause of his omission...

Despite its age the rolling stock had been properly maintained and it did not contribute to the cause of the accident. Nevertheless, its now superseded design did result in more severe damage to the rolling stock and an increase both in the severity and number of injuries. In particular, the overriding of the fifth and sixth coaches occurred because of the inadequacy of the single buffer coupling and the lack of structural strength in the coach bodies."

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« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2022, 12:55:28 pm »

Following up on the total number of casualties (544 - 542 injured, 2 died), I wondered if that might be the highest total number for ANY rail accident. and finding a program at the BBC» (British Broadcasting Corporation - home page) listing the five "worst" accidents on UK (United Kingdom) railways, that's confirmed.   The death toll at each of Quintinshill, Harrow, Lewisham, Armagh and on the Tay Bridge was an order of magnitude worse, but overall casualty numbers are below those reported at Cannon Street in every case.

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« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2022, 01:47:49 pm »

Hadn’t used this line before the accident but a few years later I did for a week when reverse commuting to Southend. What I saw shocked me when I did, I used to stand at the furthest end of the platform waiting for the train. The passengers were opening the doors as the train was still travelling at some speed into the station. Then whilst still in motion people jumped off the train and ran towards the exit. One of the platform staff said that after what had happened there he was amazed people were so cavalier in regards to their safety.
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« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2022, 02:53:38 pm »

In my commuting days (was that only 2 years ago?), I used to remind the young train crew - who insisted on opening the centrally locked door for me - that in my youth (was that only 42 years ago?), most rush-hour trains into London and other termini were empty by the time they came to a stop at the buffers.
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