Violet Town collision of 1969

 
  awsgc24 Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney
Some questions:

what kind of Vigilence Controls, or Dead Man's handle were fitted to the loco of the Aurora?

How many people were killed?


What kind of ATP were available in 1969?

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  hansonator Chief Commissioner

Location: Strathmore, Victoria
i don't think it had any type of vigilance control cause the driver died 10 minutes before the smash, so i take it that no vigilance control was fitted  Wink  Not sure on the details
  S 301 Chief Commissioner

Location: in front of the computer
The viglance was fitted after the collision so that it didn't happen again.
S301
  Brassy Chief Commissioner

Location: Gippsland
There was a type of vigilance system fitted to the S class locomotive, but it only required action on the part of the driver to cancel it. The driver had collapsed between Benalla and Violet Town and died without the knowledge of the fireman and apparently caused the control handle to be depressed.

Nine people were killed in the accident, five of them were railway employees. The coroner, in conducting an inquest, criticised the vigilance system, and as a result a modification was made to the system requiring both the driver and the fireman to cancel the system on a regular basis. Failure of both to cancel causes power to be cut and brakes applied.

Precis of text from "Six and a half inches from destiny" by Keith Turton.

Photos of the crash can be found at: http://www.railpage.org.au/trainman/violet.htm
  volts_and_amps_man Locomotive Fireman

Location: LaGrange Ill
There was a pneumatic system in place in '69 on S's that could be cancelled by either the driver or the fireman.  Failure to cancel the cycle only led to that bloody awful air siren sounding that would awaken the dead (pardon the pun), but NOT to a penalty brake application or the opening of the "ACS" contactor.

The Vigilance system of the Aurora locomotive WAS operated normally right up until the collision.  I have a copy of the speed chart (amongst a heap of stuff from the collision provided by a former Wodonga driver).....can post it here if you'd like proof.

All the "non-employees" killed were female.

V & A.    Smile
  CaseyJones Chief Commissioner

Location: A little south of sanity
No-one has asked where the fireman was at the time! Not in his seat thats for sure!
  wolfpac Minister for Railways

Location: Over here...
That's strange that, I mean where else could the fireman go? The loo I suppose...?  Confused

Weird...

Wolfpac
  L254 Chief Commissioner

Location: Melbourne
Somewhere else.
  S 301 Chief Commissioner

Location: in front of the computer
I have read that he was making a cup of tea. I have also heard that he was in the loo and have been told that this is the reason that toilets had been removd from the trains.
S301
  L254 Chief Commissioner

Location: Melbourne
have been told that this is the reason that toilets had been removd from the trains.S301
"S 301"


From which trains?.
  CaseyJones Chief Commissioner

Location: A little south of sanity
No he wasn't in the loo, but you're kinda right about the cup of tea
  trainfreak Site Admin

I was reading long ago on the internet somewhere about this accident. Reading up, I found that the fireman went to make a cup of tea and, as he went out off to make it, noticed the caution or red lights and said to the driver 'Red Lights.' He then assumed that the driver was taking emergancy action and went back to making his tea not realising there was no hiss of the air brakes etc.
  Ben Chief Train Controller

Location: Bendigo, Victoria
Hi everyone,
also I hear that the Guard was having a sleep
at the time. LOL do they ever learn  Rolling Eyes  .
  wolfpac Minister for Railways

Location: Over here...
Well, there you go... I know it maybe speculation, rumours etc, but I'm sure that wouldn't be too far off the mark... Confused

Wolfpac
  GNR10 Chief Commissioner

Is this the one which wrote off the 2 S classes (diesel)?

What loco(s) did they hit?
  T411 Moderator

Location: Somewhere
Newsrail February 1994 had extracts from the coroner's report.

The coroner found that the driver of the SA, had died approx 6 miles prior to the crash site.

The fireman of the SA, in his evidence claimed to be in the nose of the loco making a cup of tea, and to him the train appeared to be travelling normally and he didn't notice any problems with his driver. The speed chart of the loco confirms he was at least in the cab as it was pressed not long prior to the accident. The fireman, in his evidence, believed that he had heard the emergency breaks be applied as they past Vilot Town loop's home departures on the red.

The coroner believed that the guard was asleep shortly after departing Albury and that his log book was "largely a peice of ficton"

The coroner also found that had the fireman and guard been attentive to their duties, he believed the accident could have been avoided.

These above comments were taken from the report. No opinion is offered about them.

The two S classes written off were S314 and S316.
  awsgc24 Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney

The fireman of the SA, in his evidence, claimed to be in the nose of the loco making a cup of tea.
"T411"


All other things being equal, fireman should make cups of tea leaving crossing loops not approaching them.



The coroner believed that the guard was asleep shortly after departing Albury and that his log book was "largely a peice of ficton".
"T411"


Unless Guards can read the signals clearly out of the window (or mirror) it makes little difference whether the guard was asleep or not.  An exception would be made approaching an exceptional sharp curve like the Waterfall curve.
  PClark Chief Commissioner

I was booked on the wrecked Aurora but missed it by a minute or less due to a late arrival from the north caused by engineering (maybe electrification?) works between Gosford and Broadmeadow.  I don't remember the exact details.

At Central I booked a sleeper in a TAM on the South Mail and travelled to Melbourne via Narrandera and Tocumwal.  I heard about the wreck when the Mail stopped at Junee for breakfast.  At one time there was a rumour of 50 dead.

I was booked in a Roomette in Car 8 which was one of the 7 cars destroyed but would probably have been all right as I habitually had breakfast on the Aurora at the 0650 sitting and the accident happened at 0702.  The dining car survived but I think some of the crew suffered burns in the kitchen.
  Ben Chief Train Controller

Location: Bendigo, Victoria
You were really booked on the Aurora, wow talk
about being lucky  Shocked  . I've read about people
being lucky like that but never have I talked to one.
WOW
  PClark Chief Commissioner

Luck or Fate?

After 36 years my memory is a bit hazy.

I think that I caught the early afternoon (about 1250) Newcastle Flyer to Broadmeadow, intending to return to Central on the Northern Tablelands Express that was due into Central at about 1815 in ample time to connect with the Aurora at 2000.

The Flyer was delayed by engineering works north of Gosford.  These may or may not have been associated with electrification..  It arrived at Broadmeadow just as the southbound NTE DEB set pulled out.

I returned to Central by either the North Coast Daylight Express or the late afternoon Flyer which was due into Central at about 1930.  This was also delayed and I recall arriving at the concourse end of Platform 1 just in time to see the "Southern Aurora" tail sign disappearing into the night.

I don't recall why I didn't make a fuss to staff on the NCDE or Flyer and ask for the Aurora to be held or why I didn't get out at Strathfield and ask for a special stop as I did about 12 years later at Campbelltown.  Possibly, in those days, the NSWGR were too sensitive of the prestige of their No 1 train to delay it to accommodate a railfan.

I decided to try and get a berth on the 2150 South Mail or, if one was not available, to go back to the hotel where I had been staying and catch the Intercapital Daylight next morning.

There was a berth available on the Mail but I don't recall if I originally intended to travel via Tocumwal or changed my routing when I heard about the wreck at Junee at realised that there would be no Melbourne rail connection with the Mail at Albury.  I don't remember what form of ticket I had or whether the fare from Sydney to Melbourne applied via either Albury or Tocumwal.

I remember sending a telegram (how archaic that sound in 2005) from Jerilderie to reassure family who would have thought that I was on the wrecked Aurora.
  PClark Chief Commissioner

Luck or Fate?

After 36 years my memory is a bit hazy.

I think that I caught the early afternoon (about 1250) Newcastle Flyer to Broadmeadow, intending to return to Central on the Northern Tablelands Express that was due into Central at about 1815 in ample time to connect with the Aurora at 2000.

The Flyer was delayed by engineering works north of Gosford.  These may or may not have been associated with electrification..  It arrived at Broadmeadow just as the southbound NTE DEB set pulled out.

I returned to Central by either the North Coast Daylight Express or the late afternoon Flyer which was due into Central at about 1930.  This was also delayed and I recall arriving at the concourse end of Platform 1 just in time to see the "Southern Aurora" tail sign disappearing into the night.

I don't recall why I didn't make a fuss to staff on the NCDE or Flyer and ask for the Aurora to be held or why I didn't get out at Strathfield and ask for a special stop as I did about 12 years later at Campbelltown.  Possibly, in those days, the NSWGR were too sensitive of the prestige of their No 1 train to delay it to accommodate a railfan.

I decided to try and get a berth on the 2150 South Mail or, if one was not available, to go back to the hotel where I had been staying and catch the Intercapital Daylight next morning.

There was a berth available on the Mail but I don't recall if I originally intended to travel via Tocumwal or changed my routing when I heard about the wreck at Junee and realised that there would be no Melbourne rail connection with the Mail at Albury.  I don't remember what form of ticket I had or whether the fare from Sydney to Melbourne applied via either Albury or Tocumwal.

I remember sending a telegram (how archaic that sound in 2005) from Jerilderie to reassure family who would have thought that I was on the wrecked Aurora.
  18A Chief Commissioner

Location: On the tramway
one of my mums cousions was on that train.  she survived with out injury
  t_schreiber88 Beginner

My grandfather is the fireman that jumped off the goods train. Arnfreid Brendecke. Still alive and well. Massive family up here in far North Queensland.
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat Line
10 years between posts...Question

Someone's going to start jumping up & down...
  gordon_s1942 Chief Commissioner

Location: Central Tablelands of NSW
It never ceased to amaze me that when an incident occurred such as this or someone was hit by a Train, the Guard was 'grilled' more extensively than the driver.
On paper at least, the Guard is the employee in charge of the Train (NSW) and not the driver yet most events were at the front of the Train in many cases out of the sight of the Guard, not the rear where he was.
I remember a Guard of an Interurban heading to Sydney one day when it hit a 'Jumper' at a station out near St Mary's/Blacktown and he told he had just come from the Inquiry and he had spent quite some time being questioned where as the Driver barely gave his name, employee number etc and was gone.
The Guard was asked what speed the Train was doing, as if he would know as he has no speedo to read along with some questions which inferred he was at fault and wasnt doing his job.
From memory there was almost no forward view along the train of those first single decker Interurbans unless you opened either the door or window.
Just before the ultimate removal of the Brake Vans off Freight Trains in NSW, there were experiments carried out to improve the forward view, such as a raised 'hatch' area fitted with mirrors so the Guard could see forward from his seat at the desk because Trains were growing longer and longer.
I only ever traveled a few times in a Brake Van and sat trying to look along the Train which between Penrith and Bathurst was a waste of time as you could rarely see more than a quarter of the Train for most of the journey.

Prior to this happening at Violet Town, I would be very surprised if any Diesel Loco's in NSW were fitted with any sort of Vigilance control.
The only such control as I remember was the "Dead Man' handle fitted to electric Suburban and Interurban  passenger trains.

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