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Anniversary — Granville (in Sydney); other train problems - In the Shadow of Leaves
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Anniversary — Granville (in Sydney); other train problems
Granville Train Disaster
January 18, 1977 - An ordinary working Tuesday in Sydney. At 0609 Train No. 108 left Mt Victoria, to the west of Sydney at the start of its regular journey into the city. The train consisted of eight carriages hauled by electric locomotive No. 4620. With a journey time of a little more than 2 hours 20 minutes, the commuters it carried could expect to arrive at 0832
This particular service was given a degree of priority and efforts were made to ensure that it ran to time. It required some very smart working of the train as there were other, stopping trains using the same path through Sydney's suburbs. At one point there was a margin of just 3 minutes between the Blue Mountains train and a stopping train. Just a short delay could mean that the local train went ahead and the express would be held up causing a late arrival of about 30 minutes. An expedient to help to avoid this was to impose a speed limit at the curve at Granville which was 10 km/h higher than that imposed on all other curves in NSW.

As it approached Granville it began to slow in anticipation of a temporary (20km/h) speed restriction. This had been imposed because of track maintenance being carried out east of Granville, at Clyde. At 8:12am, as the train entered a left hand curve and travelling at (78 km/h) the locomotive derailed. About 50 yards ahead was the Bold Street Bridge. This carried a road over the railway line and was supported at two points on trellisses each consisting of eight steel stanchions.

As the locomotive came to the bridge it collided with the northern supporting trellis knocking down all its stanchions. With the first carriage still in tow the locomotive then struck a mast supporting the overhead power lines, shearing it near the base. The carriage collided with this mast, now suspended from the overhead power line. With 73 passengers inside, the mast tore through the carriage detaching its roof and tearing away the side walls. Eight of the occupants were killed and 34 were injured. The locomotive came to a stop slightly ahead of the carriage at a point some 73 yards (67m) beyond the bridge, fallen on its right side. Neither the driver nor the secondman were seriously injured.
Derailed carriage No 2 carried on under the bridge and finally came to rest against the northern retaining wall some distance beyond the first carriage. None of the 64 passengers in this vehicle suffered serious injury.
The other 6 carriages remained upright and on the rails and stopped with the rear part of the third carriage and the front part of the fourth carriage beneath the bridge. With the demolition of its supports, seconds later much of the bridge crashed down onto carriages 3 and 4 beneath it. The total weight of the fallen parts of the bridge was calculated to be between 380 and 570 tonnes. The carriages below offered no resistance to such a force and they were crushed reducing the height of the carriages in some parts to just a few inches. Over half of the passengers who were travelling in these carriages died.
(pic: danger-ahead.railfan.net/images/dispix/granvill.jpg)
83 passengers lose their lives, 213 are injured.

The bridge decking had collapsed as complete sections, too heavy to be removed intact by even the heaviest cranes. They had therefore to be cut up, but LPG gas, used for train heating, was escaping from cylinders and fractured pipes. Sparks from the cutting tools threatened to ignite it, so a constant film of water was sprayed over the site to lessen this risk. While rescue work proceeded, work also began on removing the standing unstable remainder of the bridge.

The possibility of a further collapse was a constant threat. A crowd of sightseers estimated at about 5000 required a some 250 police to maintain control. Even so, there were reports of looting of the rescue equipment and at least one report of the personal effects from a body being stolen. The last injured passenger was released ten hours after the accident and it was not until 3.20 pm the following day that the last body was removed from the wreckage

This is what happens when you close the stopper of a tanker while it is still hot inside after steam cleaning.

from the page

I wonder if much would have changed if the July 5, 1920 train wreck at Wilgerup, Western Australia had in fact killed the then Prince of Wales (later the notorious Edward VIII).
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