Hither Green Coal Train Disaster

By David Morgan


During the early hours of 16th December 1987 a signal man at London Bridge PSB noticed that the track circuit covering the exit from Hither Green Up Yard onto the Up Fast Line was showing “occupied” so staff were sent to investigate. What they found was that a train of 30 loaded MGR coal hoppers stabled on the Up Reception Line since the previous day had run away and derailed at the yard exit with wagons and coal fouling the Up Fast Line. The train appeared to have been left without any handbrakes having been applied and once residual air in the brake system had leaked off the train it set off downhill with the inevitable consequence. Very fortunately, due to the time of day, there were no trains passing on the Fast Lines at the time otherwise the consequences could have been disastrous. After a somewhat disrupted morning peak period, a clear up operation utilizing the East Wimbledon and Stewarts Lane Breakdown Trains commenced.


16th December 1987


This picture shows 73139 with the East Wimbledon Breakdown Train standing on the Up Fast Line near St

Mildreds Road bridge, the train had been propelled down the Up Fast Line in order to position the crane as

close to the derailed wagons as possible. © David Morgan


16th December 1987


Here we see the East Wimbledon Depot 76t crane preparing to commence lifting operations whilst the Stewarts

Lane Breakdown Train stands further along the Up Fast Line. The former Hither Green Continental Depot can

be seen in the background. © David Morgan


16th December 1987


The Stewarts Lane 45t Steam Crane all fired up and ready to assist with the re-railing operation – note the pile

of ash accumulating on the Up Fast Line. © David Morgan



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