Day Log/1906-07-31

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On this day, there was an accident near Waunfawr on the North Wales Narrow Gauge Railways.

Major E. Druitt, R.E., was requested by the Board of Trade on the 2nd August to report on this incident, and this was returned on the 15th August, from which this article is prepared.

  • A coal truck attached to the 09:47 mixed train departure from Tryfan Junction broke loose when nearing Snowdon (presume Rhyd Ddu), and subsequently ran back along the steep gradient, colliding head on with the 10:00 departure from Dinas, around the area near Nantmill overbridge.
  • The passenger train had consisted of a six-wheels-coupled bogie engine with a trailing bogie, (unstated which?), two bogie coaches and a bogie van, all fitted with the "Westinghouse" automatic brake
  • The mixed train had a similar engine (again unstated), a bogie coach and bogie van. On the end of this, a coal wagon was placed at the rear.
  • Equipment damage = The coal truck coupling was broken. A trailing bogie was derailed - see below
  • Track Damage = none
  • Personal Injuries = Seven passengers, and the crew of Driver, Fireman, and Guard received minor injuries.

Primary Causes = Guard error, site staff error, defective coupling Result = Train split, runaway portion in head on collision with another train, derailment

    • Description

From the report:

  • This railway runs from Dinas to Snowdon, and is a single line of 1ft 11½ in. gauge, with passing loops at Tryfan Junction and Waunfawr.
  • It is worked on the Train Staff and Ticket system, combined with the absolute block telegraph
  • The section in which the collision took place is between Waunfawr and Snowdon. The gradient between the point of collision and the place near Snowdon where the waggon broke loose is a rising one, mostly steep, varying from 1 in 64 to 1 in 100, but for a length of 47 chains just ahead of the point of collision it is only 1 in 551.
    • People interviewed and their responses:
  • T. Beaumont, the passenger train driver, stated that he had been on duty the previous day until 17:30, and started his shift at 07:45 on this day. He was the driver of the 10:00 passenger train from Dinas to Snowdon and had reached Waunfawr at about 10:25. He received the train staff for the Waunfawr to Snowdon section from J. Hughes, the stationmaster, whilst passengers alighted, and boarded. Hughes made no comment on other rail traffic. After a 2 minutes wait, he drew his engine out of the station, and proceeded as far as Nantmill Bridge, when a wagon ran into the front of the engine. There was a speed restriction in that area, and he was slowing down to comply. Due to the curvature of the line and the bridge, he could only see about 15 yards ahead, and there was only time to shut off the regulator and put the brakes on before the colision happened.
  • J. Hughes, the Waunfawr Stationmaster, stated that he was offered the mixed train from Tryfan Junction at 09:57. He immediately sent the signal to accept it, and in return received a "Train entering Section" signal.

It was accepted by Snowdon at 10:03 and left Waunfawr at 10:03. I did not get "Train out of Section" from Snowdon. I accepted the passenger train at 10:19, I got "Entering Section" at 10:19. I offered it to Snowdon and it was accepted there at 10:25, the same time it left Waunfawr. On the two days previous, he had not waited to get an "Out Of Section" signal from the mixed train before letting the passenger train depart, but had relied on working by the timetable. At about 10:37 I received a message from Idwal Owen, Snowdon Stationmaster, saying "Not one of the trains arrived yet", but I could do nothing.

  • Idwal Owen, the Snowdon Stationmaster stated He accepted the mixed train at 10:03 and received the Entering Section signal within seconds. He was then offered the passenger train at 10:25 and accepted it at once., although the mixed train had not arrived. We never give the "Train Arrived" signal, as under our regulations, this need not be sent unless special instructions are given for so doing. The mixed train arrived a little after 11:00

Major Druitt in his summary went on to say that:-

"This collision was due to the ordinary rules for train signalling by block telegraph on single lines of railway not being carried out.

"A mixed train with a coal waggon attached in rear left Waunfawr at 10:03 and entered the section of single line which ends at Snowdon, the terminus of the railway. A passenger train was following and although Mr Hughes, the Stationmaster at Waunfawr had not received the "Out of section" signal for the mixed train, and though the train had not arrived at the end of section, Mr Owen, the stationmaster at the latter place, accepted the passenger train when offered to him at 10:25, by Mr Hughes, and the latter allowed it to leave Waunfawr at that time. But the coal waggon at the rear of the first train got loose, by the centre buffer coupling becoming unhooked when about a mile from Snowdon, and this ran back on the steep gradient until it met the second train about two miles beyond Waunfawr. Fortunately just before this point there was 47 chains of 1 in 551 gradient so the waggon was running slowly, and as owing to a curve , there is a speed restriction, the train was also running slowly, and the collision was not a violent one. Had it occurred further on, it might have been disastrous as the waggon would have been running back at a very high speed.

"It is most important for safety that the block regulations should be strictly carried out, and no train be allowed to enter a section until the previous train has arrived and a signal to that effect passed between the signal box at either end. The Company's regulations which say that "The signal is only to be given at stations where special instructions are used to that effect" should be immediately altered, and the signal be invariably used.

"When the guard of the mixed train found the waggon at the rear of his train had disappeared, he stopped the train and after making the passengers aliight, had the train backed down the single line to try and pick up the coal waggon again. This of course was an improper proceeding, and the train should have gone forward to Snowdon, where it was due at 10:27 and the Waunfawr Stationmaster informed the train was divided, and the section obstructed.

"This would not have prevented the collision, unless the mixed train had arrived at Snowdon, where is due at 10:27, and the Waunfawr stationmaster informed that the train was divided, and the section obstructed.

"This would not have prevented the collision, unless the mixed train had arrived before 10:25, when the second train was improperly allowed to leave Waunfawr

"It is hoped that in future the regulations for block working will be strictly carried out in all cases

"The centre buffer hook couplings in use on the coal waggons are evidently not to be relied on, and, to prevent breakaways, chain couplings should be fitted as an additional precaution

I have &c. E. Druitt Lt-Col, R.E.

Damages[edit source]

There was also an appendix further detailing the damage to rolling stock

Passenger Locomotive: Leading end buffer and coupling broken and bent; cylinder covers cracked; headstock plate bent;steam chest covers cracked; trailing end buffer broken and headstock plate bent

Carriage 9 (need to identify which "9" this is): Headstock smashed, and end plates broken;two panes of glass broken and one seat disturbed

Coal Truck: End smashed in

References[edit source]

See also[edit source]