1874

EPSOM


20th FEBRUARY 1874


extracted & adapted from the report by

C.S. Hutchinson Lieut-Col R.E.

On the 20th February at Epsom station, on the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway. 
The 8 a.m. passenger train from London to Brighton (via Epsom and Dorking), came into 
collision with an engine attached to an empty train, which engine was standing on a crossing leading to a siding but foul of the main down line.
One passenger complained of having been slightly injured.

Three of the carriages of the Brighton train and the buffer beam of the engine in the siding were damaged.

The signal levers at Epsom station are concentrated in a raised cabin at the up end of the down platform in which also are the telegraph instruments for carrying out the block system which is in force on the before there was time to do anything, some of the Brighton Company's line. The point levers are at present interlocked with the signals, but I am informed that the remodelling of the station is to be shortly undertaken, when this will be done.

Down trains are admitted to the station by the lowering of a signal 210 yards from the signal cabin, and the present collision occurred at a point 74 yards inside this signal, or 136 yards from the cabin where the engine with the empty carriages was standing foul of the down line on the crossing (connecting the siding with the down line), between the trailing points
which are 90 yards from the signal cabin, and the 
blind siding points which are 158 yards from it. An over-bridge, the centre of which is 30 yards inside the down home-signal post, and this bridge, in conjunction with curve, somewhat interferes with the view both up and down the line.

At 8.47 a.m. on the day in question, a down train, consisting of an engine, three empty carriages, and a break-van arrived at Epsom station, from Sutton, the engine and first two carriages having to form a portion of the 10.18 a.m. up train. The down empty train was later in arriving than usual, and as the down passenger tran for Brighton was due at 8.53, the empty train was not allow at once to cross from the down to the up line, but the driver was by direction of the head porter (Benson) ordered to back into the siding joining the down line, a shunter (Thrower) holding the trailing points through which the train backed.

As soon as the engine had cleared the points, Thrower went towards the station to attend to other duty without apparently having observed where the engine had stopped, and a few minutes afterwards Benson meeting hint on the clown platform, and happening to look up the line, thought that the engine did not appear clear of the down line. He asked Thrower why he had not sent the driver over the blind siding points, to which Thrower replied that he thought he was clear. Benson was then in the act of going to satisfy himself if such was the case, when the down passenger train (for which the signal was lowered), came in sight round the curve, and before there was time for Benson to do anything to stop it, the collision had occurred.

The fireman with the empty train (the driver had been discharged and I did not sec him), states that as was holding the points shouted "Wo,” which the driver repeated sharp; that upon this he at once applied his break, and stopped the train as quickly as possible with the engine foul of the down line, in the position in which it remained until struck by the carriages of the passenger train ; that he and the driver expected that according to custom the shunter would have at once unhooked the engine and first two carriages, and have sent them across to the sidings joining the up line ; that instead of this the shunter went away, and that while the attention of his driver and himself was occupied with fitting a new gauge glass to the engine, instead of the old one which had become defective, the down passenger train came up, and before there was time to do anything, some of the Brighton Company's line. The point levers are not carriages struck the buffer-beam.

The signalman on duty (who had left the company's service in consequence of his having been reduced to porter for his negligence in the present case) had been employed in that capacity about 15 months. On receiving the announcement of the passenger train having left Ewell, he lowered his signals without having observed, as he could done (had he looked), and ought to have done, that the engine was not clear of the down line.

There was no blame attaching o the driver of the passenger train, as in consequence of the curve and whether the engine was or was not foul of the main line, and seeing the arrival signal lowered, he was naturally thrown off his guard, and was not expecting to find an obstacle in his path only 74 yards inside it.

This collision occurred from neglect of duty on the part of the driver of the engine of the empty train, and of the shunter and signalman at Epsom. They appear each to have more or less depended upon other, the driver upon the shunter, and the shunter upon the driver (the shunter not thinking that the driver would be so stupid as to remain foul of the the empty train was not allowed at once to cross front down line), and the signalman upon both ; if only one of the three had done their duty, the collision would not have occurred.

Had the points and signals been interlocked at Epsom, the collision would probably have been pre- vented, as in this case the signalman would have been directly concerned in the shunting of the empty train, and would also most likely have been tumble to have lowered the down arrival sigma as the wheels of one of the carriages would iu all probability have been standing on the blind siding points.

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