Symud i'r prif gynnwys
Cuddio Rhestr Erthyglau

8 erthygl ar y dudalen hon


[No title]


THERE is such a thing as novelty even in rail- way accidents, and that which occurred a few days back on the Great Northern Railway, in the Welwyn Tunnel, may fairly be described as astounding. We occasionally hear of one train running into another, and the catastrophe is heightened when such a collision takes place in a tunnel. But to hear of a second collision of precisely similar nature following the first, reducing three long trains to a chaotic heap, is something for which we were certainly not prepared. Even this, bad as it may seem, is not all, nor near all. In the case at Welwyn the pile of broken carriages with their contents were set on fire and burnt furiously-and all this in the middle of a tunnel three-quarters of a mile long! Imagination had never ventured to depict such a scene, which would, indeed, be appalling, if it were not for the fact that, the trains in question being merely goods and luggage trains, the entire series of accidents was almost unattended by loss of life. We need give but a brief outline of an affair which has elsewhere been described at length, and will refer only to those incidents to which the catastrophe was due. Late on Saturday night a train of coal wagons was dispatched to Hitchin from King's-cross, and proceeded in safety as far as the middle of the Welwyn Tunnel, when a tube of the engine burst and it was brought to a stand-still. Shortly after the departure of this train from King's-cross, a goods train was started on the same line of rails, and, no signal of danger having been given, ran into that which had broken down in the tunnei, killing the guard and fatally injuring his companion. By this collision the engine of the second train and some of its car- riages were thrown upon the other or up-line. Almost immediately afterwards a third train entered the tunnel from the other end, and, the line upon which it was travelling being now completely blocked, a second collision took place, and the debris of three trains was mingled together. Now came the most sin- gular part of the incident-for, unfortunately, with trains merely running into each other we are made but to familiar. The engine and tender of the up train being overturned, the fire was communicated to the heap of broken carriages among which they fell, and some of which contained, it appears, some very com- bustible goods. In a very short time the pile was alight, and the wind, of course, making its way into the tunnel from the ends and through a shaft near the spot, the whole heap burnt as in a furnace. The providential circumstance that passen- gers were not in either of these trains will strike every one as matter of deep congratula- tion, for the calamity in such a case would have been truly horrifying. As it is, two per- sons have lost their lives, and a third has been severely injured. The first person whose death was occasioned, the guard of the Hitchin train, was clearly himself responsible in great measure for all that occurred. It is the duty of the guard, on the breakdown of an engine from any cause, to make his way back on the line, to give signals of danger to an advancing train, or the nearest signal station. The per- formance of this duty is double necessary when a mishap occurs in a tunnel. In the present case the guard appears never to have left his break, although a quarter of an hour elapsed before the second train arrived, The neglect caused his own death, for he was killed by the collision, and a friend whom he was taking home with him, against the rules of the line, was so severely hurt that his death followed shortly after. But, of course, the blame of this catastrophe does not rest solely or even chiefly upon the guard. There were the usual signal stations at either end of the tunnel, and servants of the company posted at each, to telegraph the arrival and departure of trains in the usual way. When a train entered at one end, it was the duty of the man at that post to give the signal, train in," to his fellow at the other extremity; after acknowledging this signal, the latter was then bound to notify the de- parture of the train from the tunnel by the telegram, train out." In the absence of the latter signal in such a case, it is obvious that some cause of danger has arisen, and it is the duty of the first signalman to prevent any other train entering the tunnel until it is made known to him that the line is again clear. The two signalmen who were examined at the inquest in the present case contradicted each other flatly as to the signal that had been given. Z, b The first stated that, not having received the signal" train out," he telegraphed to his com- panion to know if the line was clear, and re- ceived in answer" Yes." The second asserted that the answer was actually 11 No," and, of course, to this misunderstanding or whatever it may be the catastrophe is actually due. The jury, in the absence of any other evidence than that of the men themselves, felt themselves unable to fix the blame upon either, and sim- ply returned a verdict, Accidental Death; but another inquiry will doubtless be instituted by the Board of Trade, and the matter will be thoroughly sifted. This is but one more illustration added to many that have gone before, of the heavy re- sponsibility that rests upon the signalmen of our railway companies, the necessity that they should be selected with the greatest care in the first instance, and the unwearying vigilance with which it is necessary that they should perform their duties. We say nothing, pending the further inquiry that must take place, that can cast the blame upon either side but we may remark that it is notoriously the fact that the signalmen upon all our lines are but a poorly paid class of officials-that they are, indeed, underpaid for the important trust re- posed in them, and therefore that their positions are too often filled by men of inferior stamp. A little more liberality in this direction on the part of the railway companies would have pre- vented many an accident which has cost them a small revenue, and perhaps have prevented that which has now occurred in the Welwyn Tunnel.