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1955: Express train crashes killing 14

Fourteen people were killed and dozens injured when an express train travelling from York to Bristol derailed and overturned at Sutton Coldfield station.

The accident happened at approximately 1615 GMT today.

The train, which was carrying about 300 passengers, had been diverted via Sutton Coldfield from its usual route through Tamworth because of essential maintenance to tracks.

It is understood seven bodies, including those of the two drivers, are still trapped inside the wreckage.

A spokesperson for British Railways said nine out of 10 carriages were derailed as the train passed through Sutton Coldfield station.

He said the cause of the accident was not yet known but was being investigated.


"Suddenly there was a terrific rending noise and we were all thrown in a heap"

Mr W Forrest, passenger

One passenger, Mr W Forrest of South Shields, who was travelling in the fifth coach on his way to Coventry, said: "The train had been swaying from side to side.

"Suddenly there was a terrific rending noise and we were all thrown in a heap.

"Some of us were thrown up and struck the roof."

Twenty fire engines attended the scene and 50 extra police officers were mobilised from Birmingham.

A total of 36 ambulances transported the injured to Sutton Coldfield hospital.

Those passengers with more serious injuries were transferred to Birmingham Accident hospital and Birmingham General hospital.

Members of the RAF also gave their assistance in the rescue efforts.

In Context
Following the accident the death toll rose to 17 and the number of injured to 43.

Before this accident the last major rail crash in Britain had occurred on 15 August 1953 in Manchester when 10 people were killed and 60 injured.

In December 1955 there were two more rail crashes. The first at Barnes on 2 December in which 13 were killed and 35 injured. The second on 22 December at Luton during which one was killed and 50 injured.

Also in 1955, the government announced a multi-million pound modernisation plan for the railways.

The plans included a 210m programme to improve track and signalling to enable higher speeds and a 345m scheme to electrify a large proportion of railway and introduce electric and diesel locomotives.


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