Two rail accidents near Castlecary
have occurred in Scotland. One of these was in 1937 and one in 1968.
An accident occurred on the evening of 10 December 1937
, at Castlecary
, in snowy weather conditions. Two trains
were involved in a collision
on the Edinburgh
main line of the LNER
, killing 35 people.
In a whiteout
at 6pm, the 5.30pm Edinburgh Waverley
to Glasgow Queen Street
commuter express collided with the late running 4.20pm local train from Dundee
Tay Bridge to Glasgow Queen Street. The locomotive
, LNER Class A3
no. 2744 Grand Parade
, hit the rear of the standing local service in Castlecary
station at an estimated 70mph. This location is confined and the rear four coaches disintegrated completely. In fact the engine of the local train, an LNER Class D29
, was pushed forward 100 yards with the brakes on.
The death toll was 35 (including 7 train crew) and 179 people were hurt, most of them seriously. An eight year old girl was counted as missing. Poignantly some locals swore to seeing the ghost of the girl for many years. The driver of the Edinburgh train was committed to court on a charge of culpable homicide (Scottish equivalent of manslaughter) for supposedly driving too fast in the weather conditions, but the charge was dropped. The Inspecting Officer concluded that it was the signalman who was principally at fault for the disaster. This was Britain's worst snow-related rail crash, others of note being Elliot Junction in 1906 and Abbots Ripton in 1876.
As mentioned above, whiteout conditions applied and visibility was no more than a few yards. The signalmen
on this stretch of line were operating Regulation 5e. This means that a double section has to be clear ahead for a train to be signalled to pass the previous box, Greenhill Junction. A set of points
ahead had been blocked by snow. The train from Dundee ran past the Castlecary home signal
in poor visibility but managed to stop just beyond it. The Castlecary signalman failed to check its whereabouts and allowed the following Edinburgh express into the section. This also ran past the same signal and collided with the Dundee train. It is believed that the Castlecary distant signal had stuck in the 'off' ('clear') position, so the express took it that the line was now clear, it wasn't until he crossed the viaduct that he saw the home signal at 'danger'. Even a modern day car would not have stopped in the remaining 50 yards to the tail lamp, which was to be flattened.
A second accident occurred at the same location in 1968, also a rear-end collision. A light engine passed a signal at danger after a telephone misunderstanding with the signalman, and collided with a passenger train waiting at the next signal. The driver and secondman of the light engine were killed.
- Hamilton., J.A.B. (1967). British Railway Accidents of the 20th Century (reprinted as Disaster down the Line).. George Allen and Unwin / Javelin Books. ISBN 0-7137-1973-7.
- Nock, O.S. (1980). Historic Railway Disasters. 2nd ed., Ian Allan.
- Rolt, L.T.C. (1956 (and later editions)). Red for Danger. Bodley Head / David and Charles / Pan Books.