Moorgate tube crash

From Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

Template:Infobox rail accident The Moorgate tube crash occurred on Friday 28 February 1975 at 08:46 on the Northern City Line, then operated by London Underground as the Northern Line (Highbury Branch). A southbound train failed to stop at the Moorgate terminus and crashed into the wall at the end of the tunnel. Forty-three people died as a result of the crash, the greatest loss of life during peacetime in the London Underground,Template:Sfn and a further seventy-four were injured. With no fault being found with the train equipment, the Department of the Environment report found that the driver had failed to slow the train and stop at the station and there was insufficient evidence to determine the cause.

A system that came to be known informally as Moorgate protection, which stops a train automatically if the driver fails to brake, was introduced at dead-ends on the London Underground.


On Friday 28 February 1975 the 08:38 service from Drayton Park on the London Underground Northern Line, Highbury Branch left one minute late.Template:Sfn Formed of two three-car units of 1938 tube stock,Template:Sfn on arrival at the station the train failed to slow, passing through the station at Template:Convert before entering the Template:Convert long overrun tunnel with a red stop-lamp, a sand drag and hydraulic buffer stop. The sand drag only slowed the train slightly before the train collided heavily with the buffers and then the wall.Template:Sfn

The Highbury branch tunnels were built to accommodate surface line loading gauge trains and were Template:Convert high.Template:Sfn The smaller diameter of the tube train involved allowed the second car to ride up above the trailing end of the driving car and come to rest on top of it. The leading driving car buckled at two points into a V shape, crushed between the wall and the weight of its train piling up behind it. The third car split apart lengthwise and rode over the end of the second car.Template:Sfn Approximately 300 passengers were on the train; 42 passengers and the driver died and 74 passengers were treated in hospital for their injuries.Template:Sfn


Emergency services were called at 08:48; the first ambulances arrived at 08:54 and the fire brigade at 08:58. Rescue was very difficult with the last survivor not being freed until 22:05, over thirteen hours after the collision. The last body recovered was that of the driver and this was not removed until 20:00 on Tuesday 4 March 1975. Services on the short line were suspended the day of the impact, followed by a shuttle service between Drayton Park and Old Street until normal traffic returned on 10 March 1975.Template:Sfn


The Department of the Environment report on the collision was published on 4 March 1976 and tests showed no equipment fault on the train.Template:Sfn Postmortem evidence indicated that at the time of impact the driver's hand was on the brake handle, rather than in front of his face to protect it.Template:Sfn Witnesses were interviewed; some passengers on the train reported that the train accelerated when entering the station, and some witnesses standing in the station reported that the driver, 56-year-old Leslie Newson, was sitting upright in his seat and looking straight ahead as the train passed through the station.Template:Sfn The state of the motor control gear as found after the accident indicated that power had been applied to the motors until within two seconds of the impact.Template:Sfn

Newson had worked for London Underground since 1969 and the post-mortem examination did not find any evidence of a medical problem such as a stroke or heart attack that could have incapacitated him. There was some doubt as to if he had consumed alcohol. Testing for this was hampered by the four-and-a-half days it took to retrieve his body from the wreckage; analysis showed that his blood alcohol level at the time of the post-mortem was 80 mg/100ml,Template:Sfn but it was not possible to reach a definite conclusion as to whether this was the result of consumption of alcohol or a product of the process of decomposition.Template:Sfn 80 mg/100ml is the current UK legal limit for driving a car (the limit at the time of the accident was higher), and the medical experts disagreed with each other on whether any amount consumed would have affected his ability to drive the train.Template:Sfn Medical evidence to the official enquiry raised the possibility that the driver had been affected by conditions such as transient global amnesia, or akinesis with mutism, where the brain continues to function and the individual remains aware although they cannot move physically, but pointed out also that there was no evidence to indicate either condition – to positively diagnose akinesis with mutism would depend on a microscopic examination of the brain which was not possible owing to decomposition, and transient global amnesia would leave no traces at post-mortem in any case.Template:Sfn

Evidence to the inquest showed that the driver did not have any reason to be suicidal and had over £270 (about £Template:Inflation today)Template:Inflation-fn in his pocket which he was intending to use to purchase a car for his daughter after the end of his shift. The coroner's verdict was accidental death.Template:Sfn The Department of the Environment report found that there was insufficient evidence to say if the accident was due to a deliberate act or a medical condition.Template:Sfn The writer Laurence Marks, whose father died in the disaster, presented a Channel 4 documentary Me, My Dad and Moorgate that was broadcast on 4 June 2006, maintaining his personal belief that the crash was suicide. A 2009 BBC Radio 4 In Living Memory episode also suggested that the driver may have lost concentration, or confused the terminus with a closed Essex Road station.Template:Sfn


As agreed before the accident, the last London Underground services on the Northern City Line ran in October 1975 and British Rail services to Welwyn Garden City and Hertford started in August 1976, replacing ones that had run into Broad Street.

Template:AnchorMoorgate protection

Following the death of a driver in 1971, when an empty stock train did not stop in tunnel sidings, London Underground had been introducing speed controls at such locations. By the time of the incident at Moorgate, twelve of the nineteen locations had the equipment installed.Template:Sfn

Very soon after the deaths at Moorgate, London Underground changed the operating instructions, so that the protecting signal at terminal platforms was held at danger until trains approaching were travelling slowly, or had been brought to a stop. However, this caused delays and operating problems.Template:Sfn In July 1978, approval was given for Moorgate Protection, Moorgate ControlTemplate:Sfn or TETS (Trains Entering Terminal Stations) to be introduced at all dead-end termini on manually driven lines on the underground system.Template:Sfn

The normal stopping position for a train is considered to have a signal fixed at danger and improved arrestors are placed beyond this point. Timing relays ensure that trains enter stations at low speeds.Template:Sfn

Also resistors are placed in the traction supply, to prevent a train accelerating when entering the platforms, although the value of these resistors had to be changed after installation. Relays switch the resistors out when the train is permitted to leave. The system was operational in all locations in 1984.Template:Sfn


In July 2013 a Template:Convert memorial was unveiled, listing those who died, in the south-west corner of Finsbury Square, Template:Convert north of Moorgate station.





Further reading

External links

Template:London rail accidents Template:1975 railway accidents