There were several investigations into the 1958 Jersey train crash.
They all concluded that the train driver was to blame for ignoring all the signals and not slowing down or stopping the train. This was thought to have been caused by a heart attack, although why the fireman took no action remains a mystery.
The main recommendation to come out of it was to fit a "deadman control" to the cab of the locomotives. The railway company was ordered to comply with this recommendation and subsequently fitted these to all their locomotives.
Both inquests blamed the engineer for the accident, citing a medical condition such as a heart attack as the main cause. Whilst researching this article, I questioned what the fireman was doing when the train passed the caution and stop signals without slowing down. One source believed he could have gone into the 2nd loco to adjust something such as the heating to the passenger cars, but would he have done so at such a crucial section of the track?
Indeed another source quoted that the train's "emergency stop" had been operated several seconds before the train plunged over the open drawbridge, so he may have been out of the main cab, returning in time to operate this or, maybe the engineer came to again; we will never know, but we should learn from it.
In European railway systems, some have red stop signals that are radio controlled so, if a train passes a red, the radio signal automatically operates the train brakes. Maybe this is a modern system and could not have been applied to train #3314.
Finally, this accident proved that although there were two men in the cab; there are occasions when one man leaves the loco; so it would have been prudent to have a deadman control. This can be a floor pedal that is kept depressed by the engineer’s foot, if for any reason he moves his foot off the pedal; the brakes are automatically applied. It can also be incorporated into the main speed controller, with the same principles. Is this not a fundamental safety precaution, even with two men in the cab?
But sure, isn’t hind sight a great thing!
1. thegauge: Bridge disaster.
2. NJnews: Look back in pictures
3. bridgehunter: Bridge operating images and reports
4. gmheritagecenter: GP7’s History.