Granville Rail Disaster

Granville, near Sydney, Australia, 18 January, 1977 a crowded commuter train was derailed and struck the supporting pillars of an over-bridge.

The bridge collapsed onto the train killing 83 of the passengers and injuring more than 200 others.

A signal check at Blacktown was the only impediment to otherwise good timekeeping. But it was the cause of the train being 3 minutes late departing from Parramatta for the non-stop run into Strathfield. With around 25 minutes journey time left and under clear signals, the Train 108 accelerated to the maximum speed permitted for the line, (80km/h). But, as it approached Granville it began to slow in anticipation of a temporary (20km/h) speed restriction. This had been imposed because of track maintenance being carried out east of Granville, at Clyde. As the train entered a left hand curve and travelling at (78 km/h) the locomotive derailed. About 50 yards ahead was the Bold Street Bridge. This carried a road over the railway line and was supported at two points on trellisses each consisting of eight steel stanchions.

The crowded 6:09 am Sydney-bound commuter train from Mount Victoria, in the Blue Mountains, was approaching Granville railway station when it left the rails at approximately 8:10 am and hit a row of supports of the overhead Bold Street bridge, constructed from steel and concrete.

The derailed engine and first two carriages passed the bridge; the first carriage broke free from the other carriages and was torn open when it collided with a pole beside the track. The remaining carriages ground to a halt, with the second carriage clear of the bridge. The rear half of the third carriage, and forward half of the fourth carriage came to rest under the weakened bridge. Within seconds, with all its supports demolished, the bridge and several motor cars on top of it crashed onto carriages, crushing them and the passengers inside.

The passengers killed were in the first, third and fourth carriages. Many of those who died were killed instantly when the bridge crushed them in their seats; Some of the survivors in the crushed carriages saw those killed one seat ahead. Some of the injured were trapped in the train for hours after the accident by part of the bridge crushing a limb or torso. Some were conscious and lucid, talking to rescuers, but died of crush syndrome soon after the weight was removed from their bodies due to the sudden release of muscle myoglobins having built up in the limb, causing renal failure. This resulted in changes to rescue procedures for these kinds of accidents. The train driver, second man, and the motorists driving on the bridge all survived.