1906 08 24

1906 August 24th            Railway Dangers

Satisfactory Board of Trade Report

More Servants Employed – Less Risk

The life of the nation is so intimately bound up with the great railway interest that the statistics contained in the Board of Trade report upon the accidents that occurred on the railways of the United Kingdom during 1905 will claim general attention.

During the period stated 1099 persons were killed and 6459 injured by accidents due to the running of trains or the movement of railway vehicles. The average figures for the previous nine years were 1149 6631 respectively, so that there has been a decrease of 50 in the number of deaths and of 192 in the number of accidents. The year 1905 was remarkable for the number of fatalities to passengers in train accidents; and it is noteworthy that more persons were killed in this manner than in any year since 1889. The gravity of the position is, however, lessened by the fact that 38 of the 39 deaths of passengers were attributed to four collisions and derailments, and that the number of passengers injured in train accidents is much below the average. Six railway servants were killed and 112 injured in train accidents, and these figures are far below the average of recent years.

One of the most satisfactory features of the report is the diminution to the number of casualties to railway servants caused by the movement of trains and railway vehicles. In the nine years that ended with 1904 the average among railway servants exposed to danger was 1 in 70; last year it fell to 1 in 81. The improvement is shared by all grades. The percentage of accidents due to misadventure last year was 57, and the casualties resulting from want of caution or misconduct amounted to 32%.

The most important of the years train accidents, which numbered 24, were,

Witham accident      10 killed         66 injured

Hall Road                21 killed        46 injured

Huddersfield             2 killed        9 injured

Cadworth                5 killed           12 injured


The figures given in the table relate only to killed and injured passengers. In these four accidents four railway servants were killed and 15 injured.

A Gratifying Improvement

There were 199 collisions and derailments in 1905, compared with an average of 217 for the previous 25 years. The improvement is greater than the figures indicate, when the train mileage is considered. In former years the collision or derailment occurred on the average for every 1508291 train miles run; in 1905 the proportion was one for every 2014689 train miles, a reduction of nearly 34% in frequency. The report attributes this satisfactory state of affairs to improvements in the permanent way, to the use of continuous brakes, and to increased vigilance and care in working.

When it is recognised that the average numbers of servants killed and injured in the 31 years previous to 1905 were 14 and 136 respectively, the significance of the following little table will be readily noted:

Year             Killed            Injured              Train Mileage

1903           9                   146                    394015320

1904           7                   114                    397037763

1905           6                   112                    400923198.

It shows that last year less than half the average number were killed and that the number of injured was considerably below the average, although there was a large increase last year in the number of servants exposed to risk. Some of the more important of the accidents caused by the movement of trains and railway vehicles, exclusive of train accidents, are referred to below,

Passengers                                              Killed            Injured

While entering trains                               11                 71

While alighting                                        7                   86

Falling upon platform, etc                        15                 1031

By closing of carriage doors                    –                  455


Shunting (coupling and uncoupling)        12                523

Braking, spragging, etc                            6                  419

Capstan, turntable & prop accidents        11                 409

Crossing line, etc                                    129               277

Other Persons

Level Crossings                                       57                 37

Trespassing                                             263                96

Suicides or attempts                                176                17

On Business                                             37                 40

Finally, the report shows conclusively that the safest place on earth is a railway train. The figures appended, which relate to passengers, speak for themselves:

Proportion to number carried

                         Year               Killed             Injured                  Killed         Injured

Figures unreadable. End of Piece.


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