Girish Mahajan (Editor)

Milton rail crash

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Country  England
Date  20 November 1955
Injuries  157
Trains  1
Cause  signalling error
Total number of deaths  11
Rail line  Great Western Main Line
Location  Milton, Vale of White Horse

The Milton rail crash was a crash in 1955, at Milton, Berkshire (currently Oxfordshire). A passenger train took a crossover too fast and derailed. Eleven were killed, and 157 were injured.



The crash occurred at about 13:15 on Sunday 20 November 1955, at Milton, between Steventon and Didcot on the line from Swindon on the Western Region of British Railways. The train involved was the 08:30 excursion train from Treherbert, South Wales, to Paddington station, consisting of ten coaches hauled by Britannia Pacific no. 70026 Polar Star. The train failed to slow down for a low speed crossover.

The engine and several carriages rolled down an embankment, which exacerbated the severity of the accident.

Contributing factors

The signals were on the right hand side of the track, but the driving position on the engine was on the left hand side, which hampered visibility.

There was a berth track circuit approaching the crossover but it was much longer than the train, making it hard for the signalman to estimate the speed of the train.


The signals were later modified to prevent a driver seeing a proceed signal for the crossover too soon. This is known as Approach Release.

Handrails on the smoke deflectors also obscured the drivers' view, and these were later removed and replaced with hand holds on all the "Britannia" class locomotives which ran on the Western Region.


Milton rail crash Wikipedia

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