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DMU Accident

Chivers Occupational Crossing, between Lakenheath and Shippea Hill, ER - 3/12/76

On a dark foggy evening with visibility between 50-70yds, a 6-wheeled Volvo lorry carrying crates of washed carrots was driven onto the crossing from the north without the driver first ascertaining that the line was safe to cross. A 3-car Class 104/1 DMU forming the 15.35 Norwich – Birmingham then struck the vehicle at 50mph, killing the driver of the train instantly and injuring 8 of the 94 passengers, one seriously. Somewhat ironically, the driver of the vehicle escaped without injury. Damage to the train was confined to the leading power car (M50495) where the front of the coach was stove in and the driving cab completely demolished.

Although the gates had been left open by the previous user, the accident was clearly caused by the lorry driver failing to establish that it was safe to cross the line. The report comments on discipline being abysmally poor at the crossing over a long period of time to the point that in 1972 the Chief Solicitor of the British Railways Board wrote to all known crossing users reminding them of their safety responsibilities. By way of illustration, there were only 9 telephone calls to the signalman requesting vehicular access over the crossing in the 12 days prior to the accident whilst there were 512 calls in the 14-day period following the accident.

As a result of the accident it was agreed that an ‘open level crossing’ with amber and twin red flashing lights should be installed and that trains should be restricted to 35mph and 20mph for freight trains. (The lorry driver was tried on charges of manslaughter and endangering the safety of persons on the railway at Norwich Crown Court on 16th May 1977. His plea of ‘not guilty’ to manslaughter was accepted. He admitted to endangering the safety of persons on the railway and was given a six-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and fined £100.)

accident report

DOT; b/c; 11pp; inc location diagram, sketch showing crossing details, sketch of new open crossing arrangement (I.K.A. McNaughton).

50495 seen getting towed past Derby. Undated, but as it still has buffers and, more importantly jumpers, it must pre-date the picture below. It has been stripped of re-usable parts from the underframe area and the doors. On the side is written "COND 2001" (2001 is the code for Derby C&W Works). David Hills

50495 seen languishing in Newton Heath, 16th September 1979. It is listed as being cut up at Vic Berry's, Leicester, just two months later. One wonders why it was stripped of parts at Derby, then sent to Newton Heath? David Hills

Chivers Occupational Crossing, between Lakenheath and Shippea Hill, ER

Involving Class 104 / Lorry
Vehicles included: 50495

Information from Peter Mullen

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