HC Deb 30 October 1956 vol 558 cc126-8W
73. Sir D. Gammans

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will make a statement on the accident which recently ocurred on the Longmoor Military Railway ; and what precautions are taken to avoid collisions on this single line.

Mr. F. Maclean

An accident occurred, in foggy weather, on the Longmoor Military Railway in Hampshire at about 8.45 a.m. on Saturday, 13th October, on the single line section between Longmoor Downs station and Liss Forest Road station. The trains involved were the 8.40 a.m. ordinary passenger train from Liss to Longmoor and a special works train which left Longmoor at 8.40 a.m. for Liss. These trains were scheduled to pass each other by means of the crossing loops at Liss Forest Road.

The passenger train arrived at Liss Forest Road at 8.44 a.m. but failed to stop at that station. It went on into the single line section towards Longmoor and as a result collided head-on with the other train shortly afterwards. The passenger train consisted of a steam locomotive, brake van and one passenger coach conveying passengers to Longmoor camp. None of the train crew or passengers in this train were injured, and the engine and coaches sustained only slight damage. The works train consisted of a diesel locomotive, a box van and four other wagons. All the casualties occurred among 19 soldiers of the Corps of Royal Engineers who were travelling on duty in the box van, which was telescoped and destroyed by the following wagon. Six soldiers were killed and eight others were injured, one seriously.

The Longmoor Military Railway is worked in accordance with the Military Railways Rule Book which is based on British Railways rules and regulations. Various methods of signalling, all designed to ensure safe operation, are used in order to train Royal Engineer personnel in the systems of railway working which they might encounter or have to introduce on railways under British military control both in the United Kingdom and overseas.

As my hon. Friend may know, an inquest on the dead soldiers was held on 26th October. The verdict was accidental death and the jury added a rider that in view of the fact that the line is worked by rather young and inexperienced national service men, discipline should be more strictly enforced.

My right hon. Friend has not yet had an opportunity to examine in detail the findings of the military inquiry which has been held, but the evidence available points to negligence on the part of some of those concerned. I can assure my hon. Friend that all necessary steps will be taken in the light of the evidence and of the jury's rider.

I take this opportunity of expressing my deep sympathy with the relatives of the soldiers who were killed or injured in this unfortunate accident.