Tonight at 2100 the BBC4 tv channel will tell the story of Britain’s worst ever rail disaster, which happened 100 years ago tomorrow. It was a three train pile-up during the First World War at Quintinshill near Gretna on the West Coast main line early on the morning of 22 May 2015, in which about 226 people died, most of them soldiers on a troop train.
The troop train was carrying about 500 men south on the first leg of their journey to Gallipoli. It was made up of gas-lit wooden coaches. Congestion in the area that morning meant that a local train was being held stationary on the main line.
The troop train ploughed into it, and then shortly after, a sleeper coming up from the south ran into the wreckage. The carriages of the troop train were soon alight, the blaze spreading with nightmare speed.
Two signalmen were blamed for the crash. One was sentenced to three years’ hard labour, and the other to 18 months in gaol, but pre-publicity for tonight’s programme suggests it may have new information on the causes.
For more on Quintinshill, see A Disastrous History of Britain.