Thursday 7th January 1971
The runaway rail fear that grips a town
WAGONS SMASH INTO CROSSING
by David Taft
FIVE HUNDRED tons of runaway railway stock
threatens to tear through a Somerset mining town every day. For there
are no mechanical safeguards on the line.
Yesterday 24 eight-ton wagons ran out of control and crashed into a level crossing in the centre of Radstock. Brakes on the rolling stock did not operate, a British Rail official told me. Senior railwayman Ken Evans, manning the box at the junction, (Sic: Thats road junction !) said that if the runaway wagons had crashed in the rush-hour, there would have been a disaster.
As it was, no one was injured. But van
driver Mr Cedric Brown, of Welton Road, Radstock, just managed
to reverse his car off the crossing. This would have been impossible
a few hours later when traffic queues form. I found that at 5.40 last
night all six roads into the junction were blocked with cars, buses
The crash sparked off a double row last
night from railway workers, and shopkeepers at the junction.
RAILMEN demanded safety measures on the line which carries coal
to (Sic: !?) and from nearby collieries.
They want a catch-bind (Sic) point which
would derail runaway wagons before they hit the town. As many as 50
are linked at a time. Wagons havent got out of control here
for more than 15 years until today. But it could happen again tomorrow
if someone forgot the brakes said one senior railman. SHOPKEEPERS
complained about manning at the crossing
Said butcher Mr Norman Graham: The
signalman just cant close the road properly when he needs to.
With six roads joining the railway crossing the gates get stuck half
open and half shut. Every rush-hour, it is chaos here.
BRITISH RAIL promised an immediate
enquiry into the crash. I cannot discuss what caused it or might
have caused it, said district manager Mr Ray Nash. But
I pieced together this picture of events:
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