Quintinshill Rail Disaster

On 22 May 1915, a 213 yard long troop train was telescoped down to 67 yards, a third of its original length, when it was involved in a triple collision at Quintinshill, north east of Gretna, Dumfriesshire.

The troop train ran into a train which had accidentally been left on the line, and a few seconds later an express from London, travelling in the opposite direction, crashed into the wreckage.

Of the 500 troops on the train, only 53 answered the roll call after the accident. 227 people were killed in total, including 3 officers, 29 NCOs, and 182 men of the 1/7th Royal Scots who were on their way to Gallipoli. On this one day, whilst still within the UK, the battalion suffered 42% of its total casualties for the whole of the War.

This disastrous collision was thus due to want of discipline on the part of the signalmen, first by changing duty at an unauthorised hour, which caused Tinsley to be preoccupied in writing up the Train Register Book, and so diverted his attention from his proper work; secondly by Meakin handing over the duty in a very lax manner; and, thirdly, by both signalmen neglecting to carry out various rules specially framed for preventing accidents due to forgetfulness on the part of signalmen.”

— Lt. Col. E. Druitt, Board of Trade

A signalman shunted a local train on to the opposite running line (the up line) to let an express train through on the down line. At the time, the two passing loops were already occupied. The signalman forgot about the local train, leading to a collision between a special troop train (hauled by Caledonian McIntosh 4-4-0 No 121) and the local train on the up line. Immediately afterwards, the express train ploughed into the wreckage. A goods train in the down loop and a train of coal empties in the up loop also became embroiled in the wreckage. In total, 226 people died and 246 were injured — of the 500 Territorial soldiers of the 7th Battalion of the Royal Scots, who were based at Dalmeny Street in Edinburgh - part of the 52nd Lowland Division - on the troop train, only 60 made it to roll call the next morning. The disaster was made much worse by fire caused by obsolete wooden framed and paneled carriages with gas lighting and the coal from the bunkers of the steam engines. The precise number of fatalities is not known because the roll of the regiment was destroyed in the fire.