Wednesday 13 May 2015
William Shenton 1855-1913 Accident Report Great Northern Railway 1891
GREAT NORTHERN RAILWAY
Board of Trade (Railway Department,)
Whitehall, London, S.W.,
9th January 1892.
I HAVE the honour to report, for the information of the board of trade, in compliance with the instructions contained in your Minute of the 11th December 1891, the result of my enquiry into the double collision which occurred on the 27th November at Sandal station on the Great Northern Railway.
On the above date at 9.38 p.m. during thick fog, a Great Northern up goods train from Leeds to London, ran into the rear end of a Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire up goods train, which was standing at the up starting signal at Sandal.
The Result of this collision was to throw five waggons of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire train down the embankment on the left-hand side of the up line, and so far as can be gathered, force one waggon of the same train off the rails to the right in such a way as to foul the down line.
About 1½ minutes after the first collision, the dining car express, which leaves King’s Cross at 5.45 for Leeds, ran at a speed of 60 miles an hour into the waggon which was foul of the down line, and cutting its way through the obstruction, proceeded for a further distance of 1,500 yards before it came to a stand.
The personal injuries caused by the first collision were slight. The fireman of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire goods train, and the driver and fireman of the Great Northern goods train were shaken and bruised, but were able to go about their work as usual.
The result of the second collision was rather more serious, although no one in the express was in any way hurt. When this train crashed into the waggon which was fouling the down line, it seems to have broken it up into fragments and “pieces of wood and iron were flying about in all directions.” Two men, viz., driver George Balance of the Great Northern goods train and fogman Whittleston, were struck and injured by some of the wreckage. The later had bone broken in his ankle, and is still (January 8th) unable to put his foot to the ground.
The first (Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire) goods train consisted of engine, tender, 22 waggons of coal and goods, and a brake-van, equal to 25 waggons.
The second (Great Northern) goods train consisted of engine, tender, 29 waggons, and a brake-van.
The express train consisted of engine and tender, and seven vehicles including brake-van and dining car, which was the third vehicle from the engine. It was fitted with the automatic vacuum-brake throughout, and had also hand-brakes on the tender and vans.
The damage to the first goods train was confined to the six waggons and brake-van at the tail of the train. Of these, five waggons were thrown down the embankment and were broken up, and one, which had fouled the down line, practically disappeared. The van was much damaged and afterwards caught fire and was burnt.
The second goods train suffered no damage beyond a few slight injuries to the engine.
The express train was badly knocked about. The motion of the engine and brake-gear of the engine and tender were carried away, several foot-boards and windows were broken, and the projecting side views on the right-hand side of all three guards’ vans were broken. The train kept to the rails with the exception of the trailing wheels of the front-van.
Ten telegraph wires were broken and one telegraph post knocked down by the first collision and the permanent way was a good deal damaged.
Full details of the injuries to rolling-stock and permanent-way are to be given in the Appendix.
Sandal is a small roadside station on the West Riding section of the Great Northern Railway, about 1¾ miles south of Wakefield. About 180 yards south of the station there is a junction with a spur line leading to the Midland main line, with facing points on the up line. The signal-box is at the junction on the up side of the railway.
The junction (or inner) home-signals for the up lines (Great Northern and Midland) are placed 83 yards north of the signal-box, and there is an up starting-signal for the Great Northern line 443 yards south of the signal-box.
The up distant-signals are 936 yards north of the signal-box.
The up outer home signal is 271 yards north of the signal-box.
The down distant (Great Northern) signal is 1,125 yards south of the signal-box.
The down home (Great Northern and Midland) signals are 195 yards south of the signal box.
The up home (outer and junction) signals are interlocked with the up distant-signals.
But the up starting-signal is independent of the distant, so that the latter can be lowered while the starting-signal is at danger.
The line falls in both directions towards Sandal station, which stands in a hollow the gradient being as follows :-
From the up distant-signal there is a rising gradient for 325 yards of 1 in 378. The line is then level for about 70 yards, and it then falls at 1 in 140 down to the signal-box.
From the down distant the line falls towards Sandal at 1 in 150 for 895 yards, and then at 1 in 445 almost up to the signal-box.
The block signal-boxes on the Great Northern line on each side of sandal are on the north (or down) side of the west Riding junction and on the south (or up) side Hare Park. Absolute block working is in force on both Midland and Great Northern lines under Great Northern rules.
William Shenton, Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire driver, stated: I have been in the Manchester Sheffield, and Lincolnshire Company’s service over 20 years, and have been a passed driver for four years. I have worked in the West Riding district for a couple of years. On the night of the 27th November I worked the 8pm Manchester, Sheffield, and Lincolnshire goods train from Ardsley to Liverpool. We left Ardsley right time. I do not know my load from Ardsley. The train was not a heavy one from there. We took on more waggons at Wrenthorpe, making our load there up to 22 Waggons of goods, coal, and brake, equal to 25 waggons, which is a full load. We left Wrenthorpe about 9.15. It was a little misty when we started from Ardsley, but there was no fog to speak of until we reached Lofthouse. At Balne Lane and Westgate North the fog was sufficiently dense and mixed with smoke from engines that it prevented me seeing the signals until I was close to them. At the West Riding junction all signals were off for me, and I also received a white light from the signalman there. Approaching Sandal I and my mate both looked out for the distant-signal but we missed it. It was on my fireman’s side, but I looked out also. I saw the post as the engine passed it, but failed to see the signal. I drew down to the home-signal, whistling as I did so. I think I was within 40 or 50 yards of the home-signal when I first saw it. It was then off. It being a lower signal than the distant I saw it better. I did not see the junction home-signal until I was close to it, as it is a higher signal. When I saw it, it was off. I drew cautiously past the box, and the signalman gave me a green light from the inside of the box. He had the lamp in one hand, and the other appeared to be on his instrument. He moved the light up and down. I passed the box at a speed not exceeding five or six miles an hour. My fireman saw the light as well as I because he remarked to me “Here’s a green light for us.” We drew down to the starting-signal keeping a good look out or it. I was looking out on my side and my fireman was looking out on his side. My fireman saw the signal first and he shouted out “Hold on! Its on mate.” I stepped over to his side and looked and saw that the signal was on. I think we were then about 30 yards from it. I made the remark “I wonder what there is in front.” I gave the engine a little steam after passing the box, to draw down to the starting signal. I stopped with my engine about two waggon lengths short of the starting-signal. I think we should occupy two minutes in running from the box to the point where I first sighted the starting-signal on. I stood looking over my foot-plate, and I heard the guard coming up on my side. When he got within five or six waggons of me, he said: “Do not go away without you see me. I will go back to the box.” I could see the light from the guard’s hand-lamp, which he was carrying. I sounded my whistle when we stopped. I left the footplate in about a minute, telling my mate to keep a sharp look out for the board, and that I would go back part way, so that I could shout to the guard if the signal was pulled off. I walked back towards the rear of the train. I was a little anxious about the green light that I had seen. I did not quite understand what it meant. It was a cold night and I began to run. I got right back to the signal-box and found my guard in conversation with the signalman. I saw the signalman open the window as I came up to the box; the signalman was shouting from inside the box as I was approaching the box, and when I was a few yards away from it. The first thing I heard distinctly from the signalman was the question? “Are you on the up line?” and the guard replied, “Yes.” The signalman then said “I thought you had gone long ago.” I then called out “How could you expect us to go with the starter on?” He said: “I have had it off for you and put it up” I said, “It’s never been off while we’ve seen it.” I then asked him, “What did you give us a light for?” and he said, “I meant for you to go right away.” I said “There is so much difference in green lights on the West Riding that we can never trust to them.” I told the signalman that I thought his green light was meant for a caution signal.” I think the next thing that the signalman said was, “I have took another on and he is coming full tilt now.” I shouted to him “What did you take him on for?” Until the signalman told me that he had taken another train on I had no idea that there was a second train coming. The signalman shouted out, “Hold him on!” or something like that, and the guard ran back to meet the approaching train showing his red light. I crossed over to the down line and ran back, and also showed a red light from my hand-lamp, waving it as hard as I could, and also shouted. I heard the levers moved in the signal-box. I cannot of course say what levers. I cannot say whether the signalman showed any red light in the direction of the approaching train. Directly I heard there was a second train coming all my attention was taken up to stop it. I could hear the train coming with steam on, and I heard the steam shut off and the buffers close up; It was then near the south end of the station near the junction home-signal. I was standing almost opposite the junction up home-signal. As near as I can say the speed of the Great Northern goods train when it passed me would be from 15 to 20 miles an hour. There were no fog-signals on the line and I saw nothing of any fogmen. Directly the collision happened I called out to the signalman. “Block the other line.” He replied. “I have took something in.” He mentioned what it was, but I did not catch it and I ran up that way waving my lamp. The guard was a little in front of me doing the same. There was not time to get further than two or three waggons past the brake-van of the second train before I heard a down train crash into something. I then ran across the down line at once out of the way, and in doing so I fell on the bank and broke my lamp. The express passed while I was down. I was afraid my guard had got caught between the two trains, and I went forward and met the guard returning. He was evidently suffering from shock, having been nearer the second collision than I was. The guard said to me that he was going towards the distant-signal to block that road because we did not know whether that bobby had done it or not. We thought the signalman in his excitement might forget to block the line. My Guard went back as far as the down distant-signal, and told the fogman there what had happened. I went to my own engine to look after my mate, and found he had been knocked amongst the coals. I asked him if he had heard the express passenger train pass, and he said that he had not. He was stunned by being thrown against the coals. In passing I saw the engineman of the second train was able to get about. The collision had moved my engine and train forward the length of three or four waggons. My engine was just past the signal. My engine was provided with the automatic brake on the engine, and also hand- brake on the tender. All the wheels, both of the engine and tender, were blocked. I can give no information as to the condition of my train until after the second collision. When I then examined my train I found it in two parts; the first portion consisted on the engine, tender, and about eleven waggons of coal, then came a space between of perhaps 30 yards, and then came some more waggons, the brake-van and the Great Northern engine all in a heap. Five waggons, loaded with goods, turned down the bank on the left hand side, much damaged. Shortly afterwards the guard, who had returned to the train, told me the brake-van was on fire. I set back to the waggons which were in front of the brake-van, and drew them ahead, at the same time the driver of the Great Northern engine pulled himself free of the brake-van. After the collision I went up to the signal-box and had some conversation with the signalman. I said “What were you about with the starter on?” and he said, “I had it off, man, and put it on again.” I said, “You were very sharp in putting it up then” I understood him to reply that he had it off two or three minutes, and I think he added “It’s a rum’un him coming like that, and being foggy.” I then asked him if he had is signals of for the other train, and he said “No.” Up to that point I thought the home-signal might have been off. I asked the signalman what time he took us, and he said that we passed the box at 9.23. I asked him what time we got him on from West Riding, and he said 9.19. I am on the Liverpool staff, but my home is at Ardsley. I booked on duty at 6.30 p.m. and signed off at 11.30 a.m. at Liverpool. If it had not been for the accident I should have signed off at 6 a.m. I had more that 12 hours interval of rest before coming on duty. I had been on duty 11 hours the previous trip. As already stated I whistled when we first stopped at the starting signal, and I did not whistle again, because if I had done so my guard would have assumed that the signal was off, and he would have come back to rejoin the train. When speaking to the signalman, after the second collision, nothing was said by him about the down express having passed the down signals at danger. All that the signalman said was that the up Great Northern goods train had run past his signals. I did not whistle for any signal when passing Sandal box. My train is not timed to stop at Sandal, but I stopped because the signal was against us. When the signalman showed me a green light, I took it to mean there was a train in front, and I expected by the time I reached the starter to find it off. I received a similar hand-signal on passing the box at Balne Lane, but on that occasion the signalman called out, “Keep a sharp look out : there is one in front.” I was about two minutes talking to the signalman before he said he had taken another train on. I did not see the junction home-signal while I was talking to the signalman, and cannot say whether it was on or off. On the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway the green light means a caution-signal. The “all right” signal is a white light. If the signalman had not shown me a green light I might have gone a little faster to the starter and I should have expected to find it off. But I should have been prepared to stop all the same if it were against me. I heard some movement of levers in the box, but I cannot say exactly what time this took place. I expected to fog-signals on the line, but I had not heard any that night. There were six waggons missing from my train, of which five were down the bank, and I think the other must have fouled the down line, and been run into by the express.
Daniel Downey, Manchester, Sheffield, and Lincolnshire Fireman, stated: I have been in the Manchester, Sheffield, and Lincolnshire companies service nine years, and have been firing four years. I know The West Riding district. On Friday night, 27th November, I was firing for driver Shenton with the 8pm goods train Ardsley to Liverpool. I have worked this particular train longer than Shenton has. I have been firing for Shenton two or three months. I am his regular fireman and my hours of duty are the same as Shenton's. We left Wrenthorpe with a full load on: the signals were off for us at West Riding junction, and we also got a white light from the signal box. It was very foggy; we could see perhaps 40 yards. On approaching Sandal we looked out for the distant signal, but it was so high up we could not see it, but we could see the post. We were going about 30 miles an hour when we passed the distant signal. Not seeing it my mate shut off steam, and we drew cautiously down towards the station. Approaching the outer home signal we saw It off. We were close to it preparing to stop when we saw it off. We did not see the junction home signal until we were close to it. It also was off, and signalman gave us a green light from the inside of his Box, holding the lamp in one hand. I could not say what he was doing with the hand. He moved the lamp, but I am not sure whether it was up down or across. We then drew down at caution towards the advanced starter. As we were getting close to the advanced starter, I saw that it was on, and I called out to my mate that it was on. We let the engine go a bit until we got close to the signal. We were almost level with it when we stopped. I was looking out on my side for the signal when I heard the guard call out "don't go, Bill I'll go to the signal box." My mate at that time was on the ballast close to the engine. When the engine came to a stand, I put my hand brake on the vacuum brake was on also. My mate put that on before he left the footplate. My maid walked back: He did not say anything to me as to why he walked back. As a group he sends me back. I remained looking out for signal which was kept at danger during the whole of the time we were standing there. We opened the whistle when we stopped, not afterwards. My engine was making a good deal of noise, and I did not hear the second train coming. After standing a few minutes I felt my train driven forward, I think about eight wagons length, And I was thrown with considerable force against the coals. I think I was stunned. I did not hear down express pass. I did not know anything about the second collision. Shortly afterwards my made and the guard came to see if I was alright. They told me not to leave the engine, and said that the London goods train had run into our train and that they (meaning the driver and guard) had had a very narrow escape from being knocked down by the express. I never left the engine. I do not suppose that we stood out the signal 10 minutes. I never heard the second train coming. I was not hurt except being stunned at first by a blow on the head. I have not been off duty.
This double collision, which might have had serious consequences, was fortunately unattended by any loss of life or grave personal injury. It was due to a series of errors on the part of Signalman East in the Sandal signal-box, who evidently was not working in accordance with the regulations. There was a thick fog prevalent at the time, but the accident cannot be attributed to this, as had rules been obeyed, no collisions would have occurred.
The facts as brought out in evidence seem to be as follows:- The fog came on at 8.30 p.m., and the signalman at once sent for the fogman, who arrived at the box between 9.15 and 9.25 p.m., the first to arrive been Whittleston, who “fogs” for the junction and acts directly under the signalman’s orders. At 9.14 p.m. the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire up goods train was offered to and accepted by Sandal. At 9.19 it was given “On Line” to Sandal, an on its being offered to and accepted by Hare Park (the next box in advance), the signals at Sandal were pulled off for it. The train passed Sandal at 9.23. Owing to the fog the driver appears to have been going cautiously, and the signalman says he thought he was “lost” and was looking out for a signal from the box. The signalman therefore took his hand-lamp and showed the driver a green light, holding it, as he says. Quite steady in his hand, meaning thereby that the driver was to go “right away.” But the driver maintains that the signalman was waving the light, and this would mean that he was to go forward cautiously. At any rate, whether the signalman meant to hold the lamp steady or not, the driver being in doubt was quite right in treating it as a caution signal especially as the fog was then very thick. He accordingly drew forward at a slower pace than usual, and when he reached the starting-signal he found it at danger, and thereupon pulled up his train and whistled. The guard of the train after communicating with his driver then went back to the signal-box to ascertain the cause of the stoppage, and later on the driver seems to have been puzzled, went back also, overtaking the guard just before the latter arrived at the box. Comparing the different statements, I do not think the driver and guard reached the box till 9.35. In the meantime the fogmen had arrived and gone to their posts, Whittleson remaining in the box to take the signalman’s orders. At 9.31 a down Midland train passed the box, but before it passed the signalman sent Whittleson to meet it and hurry it forward so as to get it out of the way of the down Great Northern express. This was done, and Whittleson, before returning to the signal-box, after the Midland train had gone forward, went to his fogman’s hut, and lighted himself a fire. He then returned to the box to fetch his fog-signals, and as he got to the top of the steps he heard two men coming along, who turned out to be the the driver and guard of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire train. As Whittleson must have been at least two minutes, and probably more, behind the Midland train, he could not have got to the box till after 9.33, and this helps to fix the time of the arrival of the guard and driver of the goods train at the signal-box. The signalman gives the time of the arrival of these men at the box as subsequent to his receiving “Train on line” for the Great Northern goods, which took place at 9.34. It may therefore be taken that these men reached the box about 9.35.
While Whittleston was away from the box, the signalman was offered at 9.28 the Great Northern goods train from West Riding junction, which he accepted. At 9.34 it was given as “On-line” and offered by Sandal to Hare Park, but of course it was not accepted, as the preceding train was still at Sandal starting –signal. At 9.32 Sandal was offered and accepted the “Be ready” for the down express from Hare Park; but the signalman did not pass the “Be ready” on to West Riding junction, probably because he has not yest received the usual intimation that the Midland train had passed “Out of Section.” But according to his book he received the intimation at 9.35, and he should then at once have offered the express to west Riding, and have pulled off his signals as soon as it was accepted. He did not offer the express at that time to West Riding, and his neglect to do so can only be explained by the fact that his attention was occupied by the arrival at about the same time of the driver and guard of the first goods train.
When these two men had explained to the signalman who they were, the latter said he thought they had gone away long ago, and that he had his starter off for them, and had put it up when he thought they had passed it. There was then some argument among the three me when suddenly the signalman is stated to have called out, “I have taken another train in, for God’s sake run and put some fog-signals down!” or words to that effect: and according to his own statement, which is corroborated by the fogman, he added “lost he should run past the signals.” The guard, driver, and fogman, who then heard for the first time that another train was expected, ran to meet it , waving their red hand-lamps, but before they had gone many yards it passed them and dashed into the tail of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire train.
According to the signalman’s book, this second train passed his box at 9.37, and according to the driver of the train, it was 9.38 when it ran into the train in front. This would seem to show that two or three minutes at least were occupied by the talking between the signalman and the two other men.
Directly after the first collision the signalman realised that the down express was likely to be approaching (although he had not received the “Train on Line” signal for it), and he called out to those near the box to run and protect the down line with fog-signals. No one at this time knew whether the down line was fouled or not, but the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire goods driver and the fogman hurried to meet the down express, and the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire guard was also going in the same direction to examine his train. As these men were proceeding southward they heard the express crash into something; and then suddenly it was close upon them. They had very narrow escape, but the only one hurt was Whittleson, who was struck on the leg by a piece of wood or iron.
The second collision occurred at 9.39 ½ according to guard Jeffries, and this is probably correct, as the second train is booked as having passed Sandal box at 9.40, when for the first time the Sandal signalman offered the “Be ready” for it to West Riding junction.
The express driver was knocked down by the collision but not hurt; as soon as possible he applied his automatic and Hand brakes, but they had no effect. The train ran 1500 yards before it came to a stand. It was then in two parts. The front van was buffer-locked with the tender, and had its trailing wheels off the rails. The brake gear of the engine and tender was destroyed, as was the motion of the engine. Underneath the first carriage of the second portion of the train a waggon wheel was found standing upright. The brake gad acted automatically on the three rear vehicles of the train, but it is not clear why it had not also acted on the Pullman car, and the vehicle next behind it.
The passengers were found to be uninjured and the guards at once took the proper steps to protect the train and to give information.
Such being briefly the sequence of events, it remains to be seen how the three trains came to be in their respective positions. The first goods train was proceeding cautiously on account of the fog, when the signalman showed the driver a green light. On the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway any kind of green light is a caution signal. On the Great Northern Railway a fixed green light is “All right” a green light waved crossways is a caution- signal. The driver says the signalman was waving the green light, whereas the signalman says he was holding it steady. But as a matter of fact he need not have been holding it at all, as there is a fixed socket provided for these signal lamps in all Great Northern signal-boxes. Anyhow the driver was uncertain what the signal meant and when he found the starting signal at danger he was bound to stop. This would have led to no collision if the home and distant signals had been put to danger when the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire train passed the signal-box and kept at danger till the train had reached Hare Park, and if the following train obeyed the signals. The driver and fireman of the Great Northern goods train positively assert that the signals were all “off” for them as they passed through Sandal, and that the junction home-signal, which was “off” when they first saw it, was suddenly put against them as they were passing it. The signalman emphatically states that all the signals were against the second goods train. There is no doubt the signalman did not intend to stop the first train at the starter. He allowed what he then thought sufficient time for that train to pass the starter, and then put it to danger, but he admits that he may have made a mistake, and put it up too soon. This train passed his box at 9.23 and the Great Northern goods was offered him at 9.28 and was given “ On line” at 9.34; these signals being 5 and 11 minutes respectively after the first train had passed. He was then in ignorance of the fact that the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire train was waiting at the starter, he was of course momentarily expecting to receive the “Out of section” signal for it from Hare Park, and in expectation of this he offered the second train to Hare park at 9.34, with the result that it was not accepted. Under these circumstances I am of the opinion that he pulled off the home and distant signals for the second train at the time that he offered it to Hare Park, i.e. at 9.34. And this I have no doubt occurred just before the Manchester, Sheffield, and Lincolnshire guard and driver arrived at the box ( I have already given my reasons for fixing the time of their arrival at 9.35). The signalman’s attention was the taken up by his argument with these men, when he suddenly remembered that he had his signals off for the second train. It then seems to me probable that he called out “For God’s sake stop this train that is coming!” and threw up his signals in its face a stated by the driver and fireman of it. The signalman says that he uttered this exclamation because he was afraid the train would run past his signals, but this explanation carries no conviction with it. There was no reason for such a fear on his part, as if he had done his duty there would have been nothing left to do. And the impression conveyed to the minds of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire driver by his manner was that the signals were off for the second train.
Driver George Balance , of the Great Northern goods train, is given a very high character, and I believe his statement to be correct, and that the distant and outer home signals were off for him, and that the junction home signal was thrown up in his face as he was passing it, too late to avert the collision. The absence of any fog signals also points to the fact that the signals were “off”. The distant fogman had not reached their posts, but the junction fogman was at the box 16 minutes before the second train passed, and if the signals were at danger it can be hardly doubted that the signalman would have given orders for fog-signals to be put down.
Turning now to the down line, it is clear that as the first collision occurred at 9.38 p.m. and the second collision at 9.39 ½, there was no time available in which to take steps to stop the down express at Hare Park, and in fact it was passing Hare Park at 9.38, the moment of the first collision. The signalman however tried to give warning to Hare park, but failed to do so, as the telegraph wires had all been broken by the waggons which fell down the embankment. But the question arises as to whether the Sandal Down signals were at danger when the express passed them. The signalman states that they were all at danger, while the driver and fireman say that the distant-signal, which is the only one they saw was off. Both signals undoubtedly should have been at danger.
The express was offered to Sandal from Hare Park at 9.32 and was at once accepted, but it was not passed on to West Riding Junction, presumably because the Midland train had not at that time been given “Out of Section”. This intimation was, however, received at 9.35 p.m. according to the book, and, as already explained, I believe the Manchester, Sheffield , and Lincolnshire driver and guard arrived just at this time, and attracted the signalman’s attention, and in this way the “Be ready” had not been passed on to and accepted by West Riding Junction, the down signals at Sandal should have remained at danger. But as in the case of the up signals, so in the case of the down signals, I am of opinion that the signalman pulled off the signals for the express in anticipation of his receiving “Line Clear” from the station in advance. This belief receives confirmation from the fact that signalman East never said anything about the express running past the signals until December 2nd, or five days after the accident, when the official enquiry was made by officers of the Railway Companies. He would then naturally be driven to make the statement that the express disobeyed his signals in order to screen himself: for from the examination of the books and train entries, it became clear that the signals ought to have been at danger, whether they were so or not. Moreover it is impossible to believe that any driver would court almost certain disaster by running past a danger signal at 60 miles an hour in a fog.
I do not think that if these signals had been at danger the second collision would have been averted. The obstruction on the down line existed about 340 yards outside the home signal. The driver, if he had checked his speed at the distant-signal, would have not expected to sop the train till he reached the home signal, and as there was a thick fog, he would not have seen the obstruction and would certainly have run into it.
To put the case briefly, the signalman was guilty of the following errors in working viz :-
(1.) In putting the up starting-signal to danger before he was sure that the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire train had passed it.
(2.) In pulling off the up distant and home signals for the second goods train before he had intimation that the first (Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire goods) train had reached Hare Park.
(3.) In pulling off the down signals for the down express before that train had been offered to and accepted by West Riding Junction.
Of these, (1.) was a mere error of judgment, but (2.) and (3.) are serious breaches of the regulations, on which the safety of block-working depends. The collisions were due to (2.) For the reasons already given, no part of the disaster can be attributed to (3.), though this fact does not lessen its gravity.
Signalman East has been a signalman for six years, and stationed at Sandal 10 months. He had been on duty 3 hours 38 minutes at the time of the first collision, and he bears a good character.
It would be desirable to interlock the up starting signal with the distant signal, so as tp prevent the latter from being lowered when the starter is at danger, as is done on many other lines.
The arrangements for the “fogging” at the junction can hardly be considered satisfactory. The up and down junction signals are 83 yards and 195 yards respectively from the signal box in opposite directions: and one man is told of to “fog” for these four signals so widely separated. The custom is for the fogman to stand by the signal-box, from which point he can, during a fog, see none of the signals. He therefore cannot carry out the regulations, but has to take all his instructions for putting down fog-signals from the signalman. If possible, two fogmen should be provided for this junction, one for the up home signals and another for the down.
This report has been delayed owing to the injury sustained by fogman Whittleston, who could not be examined till the 6th instant.
The Assistant Secretary
Railway Department, Board of Trade
I have, &c.,