Lichfield rail crash

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Lichfield rail crash
Date 1 January 1946
Location Lichfield Trent Valley railway station
Country England
Rail line Trent Valley Line
Operator London Midland and Scottish Railway
Cause Points failure
Statistics
Trains 2
Deaths 20
Injuries 21
List of UK rail accidents by year

The Lichfield rail crash was a rail crash which occurred on New Year's Day 1946 at Lichfield Trent Valley station in Staffordshire, England. 20 people were killed in the accident, caused when a points failure routed a goods train into the back of a stationary passenger train waiting at the station. This event is the basis for a story in the Railway Series by Rev. W. Awdry.

The crash[edit]

The crash occurred at 18:58, and involved the 14:50 fish train from Fleetwood to London Broad Street. This train consisted of seven four-wheel fish vans and a brake van hauled by a Stanier Class 5 4-6-0. It was travelling at around 35 mph when it passed into the station, and was scheduled to run through on the fast up line. However at the north end of the station, it was accidentally diverted by the failed points, onto the station's up passing loop, where it collided with the rear end of a Stafford to Nuneaton local passenger train, which was waiting at the station on the loop. The passenger train consisted of four old wooden-bodied coaches. The force of the impact demolished the rear three coaches, and hurled the engine (a LNWR Prince of Wales Class 4-6-0) forwards 100 yards.

Cause[edit]

The points failure was caused by the extremely cold weather that day freezing the point mechanisms. When the signalman had accepted the fish train from the previous signalbox to the North, he needed to swing the facing points (that allowed entry into the Up Platform Loop from the Up line) from reverse to normal. When he pushed the lever back into the frame he was able to engage the point lock and thus clear the signal. Unbeknown to him, the point rods had actually bent due to the mechanisms freezing up, which allowed him to place the point lever in the normal position, but actually left the points in reverse. This accident is one of the very rare occasions where mechanical interlocking has failed to work correctly.

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