On This Day …

Sunday, 25th January, 1885

2485156450_c35f632970Only two years after the track from Melbourne to Sydney was finally connected all the way, one of the first rail disasters took place at Cootamundra, NSW. The express train to Sydney had left Melbourne carrying many passengers bound for the races at Randwick. Little did they know that disaster lay ahead, barely over half way through the journey.

A 250ml rainfall over the previous few days had caused flooding in Cootamundra, and normally dry creek beds swelled over their banks. Salt Clay Creek, which the railway crossed, became a torrent which washed part of the track away — the culvert not being big enough to withstand such a swell. Added to that the telegraph wires were down, so the warning message could not be sent through to the rail company.

Being around 8pm, there was little light, so the washed out bridge would have been unseen until they were almost upon it and so the train plunged ahead into the gap. Sadly, eight people died and another forty-nine were injured in the crash. In darkness, survivors had to help one another, getting out of the water and to dry ground. You can see from the photo, how a number of carriages were completely shattered in the impact.

At the coroner’s inquiry, it was found that the Railways Department were at fault for not building a big enough culvert to withstand those kind of floodwaters.

Have you ever been in a serious accident? How did it impact your life?

Published in: on 25th January, 2013 at 10:29 am  Comments (2)  
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