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Nostalgia: Marking 45 years since the Chester Rail Crash

Disaster happened on the evening of May 8 1972

It’s been 45 years but the pictures are just as shocking as they were back then.

On the evening of May 8, 1972, an accident that could so easily have had deadly consequences happened at Chester railway station (then known as Chester General Station).

It happened when the 19:31 freight train from Ellesmere Port to Mold Junction which was carrying a large quantity of kerosene, petrol and gas oil, had a brake failure just before 9pm.

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Luckily, the driver of the train had anticipated what was about to happen, and unable to do anything to stop it, he jumped out onto the platform at the last second with the train still moving, before it ploughed into an empty diesel multiple unit.

The impact destroyed the first coach and caused the station restaurant to completely collapse.

A huge explosion could be heard all over the city when the burst fuel tanks ignited and suddenly, Chester station was engulfed in flames.

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It was nothing short of a miracle that there were few people around at the time, although some trapped restaurant staff had to be rescued, along with a postal worker and several passengers on a nearby stationary train before the flames reached them, and this was perhaps only because the fire brigade were based so nearby.

Experts said later that the blaze could have been ‘catastrophic’ if it hadn’t been brought under control so quickly. Nevertheless, it still was not fully extinguished until 00:20 the next day.

According to internet reports, an investigation later found that the guard had forgotten to connect the vacuum brake pipes and the driver had also failed to carry out a brake test before departure.

 

 

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