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1952: Many die as three trains crash at Harrow

VIDEO : Emergency services in race to reach passengers

At least 85 people have been killed and more than 200 injured in the country's worst peacetime rail crash.

The accident happened at 0820 GMT at Harrow, a north-west suburb of London.

A London-bound express train from Perth ploughed into the back of the 0731 Tring-Euston commuter train as it was about to leave Harrow and Wealdstone station, on the London Midland region line.

Seconds later, a third train coming from Euston crashed into the wreckage.

Survivors described hearing a deafening sound like an explosion and then broken glass and debris flying everywhere.


"It all happened in a second. There was a terrible crash and glass and debris showered on me"

John Bannister, survivor

John Bannister of Harrow was in the local train in a coach just under the footbridge at the time of the accident. He told The Times newspaper: "It all happened in a second. There was a terrible crash and glass and debris showered on me."

He added: "I blacked out for a moment and when I came round I found I was lying on the line with debris on top of me. I managed to free myself and drag myself on to the platform."

There were about 1,000 passengers aboard all three trains, with most causalities at the rear end of the Tring commuter train and the front coaches of the two express trains.

Some of the victims were on the platform as carriages full of commuters were hurled onto them. Others were killed on a footbridge over the track that was punctured by a pile of coaches 30-foot (9 metres) high.

Residents help rescuers

Rescue workers are battling to free survivors still trapped in carriages at the bottom of the pile-up.

Firefighters and police have been joined by railway workers and local residents.

The middle section of the footbridge has been cut away to free up the front two coaches of the local train which seem relatively undamaged. Other coaches have been cut through to bring out survivors and the dead.

Police officers occasionally shouted or blew their whistles for silence to listen for any signs of survivors in the wreckage.

The Queen and the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, have sent messages of sympathy to the victims and the bereaved.

In Context
A total of 108 passengers and four rail crew were killed and nearly 340 people injured.

It emerged that the driver of the 2015 sleeper train from Perth had passed two signals at danger when it ran into the Tring-Euston commuter at about 60mph (97kp/h).

The mayor of Harrow, Councillor John Branch unveiled a memorial plaque at Harrow and Wealdstone station to mark the 50th anniversary of the tragedy on 8 October 2002.

The worst UK rail accident was in 1915 at Quintinshill, in Scotland, when a passenger train collided with a wooden train carrying troops.

Fire swept through the troop train and more than 200 people were killed.


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