July 13, 2005

CLAPHAM & PADDINGTON RAIL DISASTERS


Paddington rail disaster


Clapham Junction disaster

(Photos: BBC web site)

The London Fire Brigade has seen its share of train wrecks.

On Dec. 12, 1988, Chapham Junction was the scene of a ``horrific railway accident involving two collisions between three commuter trains,'' according to the online encyclopedia Wikipedia. Thirty-five people died and more than 100 were injured.

The BBC reported that day:

Two commuter trains carrying an estimated 1,300 passengers between them collided shortly after 0800 GMT at Clapham Junction - Europe's busiest railway junction.

A third empty train later ran into the wreckage killing some passengers who had survived the first crash.

Many passengers are still trapped as fire crews are cutting through the tangled carriages to reach them.

Emergency services have said the extent of the injuries mean some passengers have received operations at the scene.

At nearby St George's Hospital in Tooting staff are on emergency alert as coaches and ambulances wait to take those needing medical care to its new accident and emergency unit.

Passengers well enough to leave by foot, stood by the rail track and were described as "visibly shocked and distressed.''


Paddington Station

In another morning rush hour accident, 31 people died when two commuters trains collided Oct. 5, 1999 near London's famous Paddington station. Some of the passenger cars burst into flames and the plume of smoke was visible across London.

Dozens were injured.

Investigators determined one of trains ran through a stop signal.

``Up to 30 ambulances, 12 fire engines and 70 firefighters rushed to the scene,'' the BBC reported that day.

Firefighters used ladders to reach the smoldering wreckage.

Other train wrecks

On Nov. 5, 1967, a commuter express derailed at Hither Green in southeast London, killing 49 people and injuring 78 others. Just one of the train's 12 cars remained on the tracks. Two cars jack knifed. Another landed on its roof.

The BBC reported from the scene:

Tonight, rescuers working under floodlights are trying to free those still trapped in them.

Driving rain and the position of some of the overturned coaches has made the rescue operation especially difficult.

Firemen are using special equipment to cut through many coaches to release passengers.

Hospital medical teams and ambulances are at the crash site and doctors have had to crawl through twisted wreckage to treat survivors and give them painkilling injections.

The Hither Green wreck was about a mile from the the scene of the Dec. 4, 1957 Lewisham train wreck that killed 90 people and injured 175 others.

On Oct. 8, 1952, a London-bound express slammed into a commuter train as it was about to leave Harrow and Wealdstone station, northwest of London. Seconds later, a third train crashed into the wreckage, killing 108 people and injuring more than 200.