Train Crash Survival

A train is a connected series of vehicles that move along a track (permanent way) to transport freight or passengers from one place to another. The track usually consists of two rails, but might also be a monorail or maglev guideway. Propulsion for the train is provided by a separate locomotive, or from individual motors in self-propelled multiple units. Most modern trains are powered by diesel locomotives or by electricity supplied by overhead wires or additional rails, although historically (from the early 19th century to the mid-20th century) the steam locomotive was the dominant form of locomotive power. Other sources of power (such as horses, rope or wire, gravity, pneumatics, and gas turbines) are possible.

The Harrow and Wealdstone rail crash was a major railway disaster and collision on the British railway system on 8 October 1952.

The accident took place 11.5 miles (18.5 km) from central London. The crash was the worst railway disaster in England and the worst peacetime railway crash in Great Britain, surpassed only by the 1915 accident at Quintinshill, Scotland, in which a troop train collided with a stationary passenger train and another express train ran into the wreckage.

The accident

The crash, which took place at 08.19, was a double collision involving three trains. The 07.31 local passenger train from Tring to Euston station, London was standing at the up main platform of Harrow & Wealdstone station when it was hit in the rear at 50–60 mph by the 20.15 express sleeper train from Perth, Scotland.

Seconds after the first collision, the double-headed 08.00 express from London Euston to Liverpool and Manchester, which was traveling at about 50 miles per hour (80 km/h), ran into the wreckage strewn across the down main line. Its locomotives were deflected to the left, ploughed across the down fast platform and came to rest across the electrified local lines opposite. Its carriages, which overran the wreckage from the first collision, brought down part of the station footbridge. All six lines through the station were blocked by the collision.

Rescue work took several hours, as survivors had to be extricated from the piled-up wreckage of three trains. 112 people died and 340 were injured in the accident. The dead included 108 passengers (including 39 railway employees en route to their jobs) and four on-duty railwaymen.

The first collision was attributed to the Perth express passing a colour light distant railway signal at "caution" and the outer and inner semaphore home signals at "danger". The reason for this error is unknown, as the driver and fireman of the Perth express were killed. The crewmen on the down express were unable to avoid the second collision.

How to Jump from a Moving Train

1. Move to the end of the last car. If this is not an option, you can jump from the space between cars, or from the door if you can get it open.

2. If you have time, wait for the train to slow as it rounds a bend in the tracks. If you jump and land correctly you will probably survive even at high speeds (70 mph or more), but you increase your chances of survival if the train is moving slowly.

3. Stuff blankets, clothing, or seat cushions underneath your clothes. Wear a thick or rugged jacket if possible. Use a belt to secure some padding around your head, but make certain you can see clearly. Pad your knees, elbows, and hips.

4. Pick your landing spot before you jump. The ideal spot will be relatively soft and free of obstructions. Avoid trees, bushes, and, of course, rocks.

5. Get as low to the floor as possible, bending your knees so you can leap away from the train car.

6. Jump perpendicular to the train, leaping as far away from the train as you can. Even if you jump from the last car, leap at right angles to the direction of the train. This way, your momentum will not carry you toward the wheels and tracks.

7. Cover and protect your head with your hands and arms, and roll like a log when you land. Do not try to land on your feet. Keep your body straight and try to land so all parts of your body hit the ground at the same time—you will absorb the impact over a wider area. If you land on your feet, you will most likely break your ankles or legs. Do NOT roll head over heels as if doing a

forward somersault.

Composition of trains:

* The 07.31 up local passenger train from Tring to Euston was made up of nine non-corridor coaches hauled by a 2-6-4 tank engine.

* The 20.15 up express passenger train from Perth to Euston consisted of 11 vehicles (which included four sleepers and 3 vans) hauled by a 4-6-2 tender engine.

* The 08.00 down express passenger train from Euston to Liverpool and Manchester consisted of 15 vehicles (including four vans) and was double-headed by a 4-6-0 tender engine and a 4-6-2 tender engine.

The official report on the accident noted that 16 railway vehicles (coaches, vans, and kitchen cars) were essentially destroyed, and 13 of these vehicles were compressed into a space 45 yards (41 m) long, 18 yards (16 m) wide and 30 feet (9.1 m) high.

It was believed that 64 fatalities occurred in the local train, 23 in the Perth express and 7 in the Liverpool train. Another 14 could not be ascertained, but probably occurred among passengers on the station platforms or footbridge at the time of the collisions. The fireman of the lead engine of the Euston to Liverpool express had a miraculous escape, being thrown clear and coming to a few minutes after the accident lying on wreckage from the engine behind, the crew of which also survived.

Patchy fog had been noted in the vicinity prior to the accident, particularly near the vital distant signal, but the sun was breaking through the fog with improved visibility. No exceptions were taken to the proper functioning of the signals, nor to the signalmen's observance of the absolute block rules. The engine leading the Perth express, Class 8P 4-6-2 No. 46242 "City of Glasgow", was examined after the collision and no defect was found that might have distracted the driver and fireman from seeing the signals as they approached Harrow.

Nor was there any evidence that Driver Jones might have been incapacitated before the collision. He had clearly been alert only minutes before, when he braked the train to a standstill for signals at Watford, and a post mortem revealed no traces of sudden illness or anything else that could have affected his judgement. The report could only conclude that for reasons unexplained he had relaxed his vigilance during the crucial minutes as the train approached Harrow, missed the signals, and then made a sudden emergency brake application when he realised his mistake. By then it was too late.

It is known from the signalman's train register that the signalman had adopted fog working (in this case double block working) some time prior to the accident. However, that same train register also shows that the fog had dissipated before the accident and that normal block working had been resumed. It was conjectured that the patchiness of the fog may have hindered the Driver's view of the signals, but by the time any accident investigation was carried out, conditions had improved considerably and so it remained conjecture.

It should be noted that fog conditions are not a matter of signalman's judgement. Every semaphore signal box in the UK has associated with it a 'fog object' located 20 yards away. If the fog object is not visible, then the signalman is required to adopt fog working. This could entail the deployment of special fog signalman to ensure that signal indications are relayed to drivers, often by placing and removing detonators on the track. Alternatively, double block working can be used (and has to be used until fog signalmen are properly deployed) if the fog is expected to be short lived. In this regime, a home signal cannot be cleared into the station limits until the box in advance has accepted the train. This gives an extra set of signals before any potential obstruction.

The locomotives hauling the combined Euston to Liverpool and Manchester train were so badly damaged that they were scrapped. They were Class 5XP ("Jubilee") 4-6-0 No. 45637 "Windward Islands" and Class 8P 4-6-2 No. 46202 "Princess Anne". The latter was a rebuild in conventional form from an experimental steam turbine locomotive "turbomotive" and had been in service as "Princess Anne" for only a few months. Remarkably, the battered engine of the Perth train, 46242 "City of Glasgow", was repairable despite having taken the force of both collisions.

The accident would almost certainly have been prevented if Automatic Warning System (AWS) had been installed on the engine of the Perth express. This crash, together with the Lewisham accident five years later, accelerated the introduction of AWS throughout Britain's railways.

A memorial plaque concerning the disaster was placed above the main entrance on the northern side of the station to mark the 50th anniversary in 2002.

Pakistan train crash carnage kills 128

GHOTKI, Pakistan: A crowded Pakistani passenger train rammed into another at a station yesterday and a third train then ploughed into the wreckage killing at least 128 people and injuring hundreds.

Both Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao yesterday sent messages of condolence to their Pakistani counterparts Pervez Musharraf and Shaukat Aziz over the tragedy.

They offered their condolences to the victims' families, and expressed deep grief over the those killed in the accident.

About 1,000 people were aboard each of the trains and many of the passengers were asleep at the time of the pre-dawn disaster.

Railway officials said human error was to blame. Police and rescuers are still searching for bodies in the mangled remains of carriages.

"I was sleeping. I woke up at the noise of a huge bang and then there was big jerk and smoke all over the place," said a distraught injured passenger, Mohammad Amin.

"There was total darkness... I hit the floor and fainted," said Amin who was desperately searching for his son.

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