Ilford rail crash (1944)

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Ilford rail crash
Details
Date 16 January 1944
Time 6:20pm
Location Ilford
Country England
Cause Signal passed at danger
Statistics
Trains 2
Deaths 9
Injuries 38
List of UK rail accidents by year

The 1944 Ilford rail crash involved the deaths of nine people, one of them Frank Heilgers, the Member of Parliament for Bury St Edmunds. The accident, at Ilford railway station on 16 January 1944, was due to driver error - a signal passed at danger on foggy conditions. The 2.40pm express passenger train from Norwich to London Liverpool Street ran into the back of the 2.38pm express passenger train from Yarmouth, on the up through line at Ilford station.

Collision[edit]

On 16 January 1944, in darkness, dense fog and wartime conditions, the 2:38pm express train from Yarmouth stopped at Ilford. Due to bad visibility the driver had not seen several caution signals and had subsequently managed to stop 110 yards (100 m) past the danger signal. The driver walked to the signalbox and after a short wait was given a "line clear" by the signalman. As the driver returned to his train the signalman had a telephone call from the signalman in the adjacent box reporting that the following train from Norwich had passed all his signals at danger. The Ilford Station Inspector, who had arrived at the signalbox to find out why the express had stopped, was sent to place detonators at the rear of the Yarmouth train.[1] However he was unable to reach the rear of the train before, at about 6:20pm and travelling at about 20–25 mph (32–40 km/h), the Norwich train collided with the Yarmouth train.[2]

The Yarmouth train comprised a 4-6-0 steam locomotive hauling nine coaches and a two coach articulated set and the Norwich train was made up of a 4-6-0 locomotive hauling ten coaches and a two coach articulated set; both trains were crowded. There were 9 fatalities, 28 people were detained in hospital and 10 people suffered shock or minor injury.[3]

Aftermath[edit]

First aid was available immediately as an American doctor and nurse had been travelling on the train; also a member of staff had been ambulance trained. Ilford civil defence personnel arrived at 7:36pm, and ambulance and the civil rescue squad following at 7:50pm. A local US Army depot sent a medical detachment. Hampered by the dark and fog the last of the casualties were recovered at 9:20pm. The local lines were not blocked and the through lines were reopened the following day at 2:30pm.[4]

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Coordinates: 51°33′31″N 0°4′5″E / 51.55861°N 0.06806°E / 51.55861; 0.06806