Friday, 28 February 2014

Moorgate Tube Day

28th February 1975

This day in least 43 killed in London Underground after the train speeds past its final stop

Image retrieved from Google. Will remove at owner's request.
Dealing with the aftermath.
The Moorgate Tube Crash was the worst Tube disaster in London's history, killing 43 passengers, including the driver, ad injuring approximately 70 people. It was the 8:37am Train from Drayton Park to Moorgate, packed full of London commuters. The train blundered past the platform, ploughed through a sand barrier and crashed into a brick wall at 30-40mph. On impact, the first three carriages crumpled together and the collision sent the station into total darkness and caused clouds of soot and dust. The rescue team were soon on the scene including police, underground staff, fire departments, doctors and nurses. Daily Telegraph's journalist Gerard Kemp was also on scene; the only press allowed down into the station. He described the ordeal as a "horrible mess of limbs and mangled iron," as the rescue team attempted to free the dead and injured from the tangled mess of the metalwork. Kemp also described the environment as "almost 120 opening the door of the oven."
To show the intensity of the crash, it wasn't until 12 hours after the tragedy that a policewoman was brought out of the front carriage after having her foot amputated, and the last known survivor removed from the wreckage was not freed until 10pm. 

Image retrieved from Google. Will remove at owner's request.
Bringing survivors out of the station.

Things to consider:
  • Cause of the crash remains a mystery 
  • The driver, 55 year old Leslie Newson, was in good health, had not taken any alcohol or drugs and was not considered to be suicidal (Worked for the underground since 1969 and was known to be a conscientious driver)
  • Post-mortem suggests it may have been a Petit mal seizure causing a staring or absence spell. Whilst this only lasts a few seconds, it can make all the difference - the medical report, however, finalised the incident as an accidental death
  • Investigations into the crash had confirmed that the brakes had not been applied during its acceleration and Newson had not even raised his hands to protect his face at the moment of impact
  • There were no problems with the train, `signalling equipment or the track
  • Passengers standing on Moorgate Platform said they saw the train suddenly accelerate when approaching the station and the driver was seen sitting upright in his chair looking ahead
  • New safety measures were introduced following the tragedy - Moorgate Protection System now automatically stops trains if the brakes fail on dead-end Underground stations
Image retrieved from Google. Will remove at owner's request.
Passengers being freed and treated on site.
There has since been a memorial erected in Finsbury Square, 2013, commemorating the 43 people who died. 

Image retrieved from Google. Will remove at owner's request.
Unveiling the memorial.

What are your thoughts surrounding the Moorgate mystery? Leave your comments below. 

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