Falkirk Rail Disaster
Tragically the events at Falkirk, or more accurately at Polmont near that town, on July 30 1984 that claimed 13 lives in a horrific train crash were a concatenation of chance and circumstance that it is hard to think could not with better foresight have been avoided.
An Edinburgh to Glasgow express train had left Scotland’s capital at 17:30, and was travelling at an estimated 85mph when just beyond a bend in the track near Polmont Station it slammed into a cow that had wandered onto the track, fencing there it would appear inadequate. The driver braked immediately he saw the beast, but with a mere six seconds to impact the train slowed but little. Had the train been headed by a locomotive it may well have ploughed through the creature with little or no effect, though that is impossible to know for sure. But this train comprised a lighter carriage with a control cab at the front of five-coaches and a diesel engine powering things from the rear. That control carriage was derailed by the cow, and took the rest of the train with it. Thirteen passengers lost their lives in the accident, many it seems thrown through windows in the tumbling carriages, others colliding with fellow travellers.
A footnote to the story: the 2001 Selby Rail Crash which claimed 10 more lives followed a similar pattern, a control carriage striking and being derailed by, in that latter case, a Land rover.
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