(below) is Motor Car 60000 from 1001 which was the leading car of the second unit had minor but because of the derailment was unable to be uncoupled so the coupler had to be cut off
The driver was unfortunatly killed in the incident
At 2105 hours on Friday 14th March 1980 an ECS movement from St Leonard’s to Chart Leacon (Ashford) derailed at Appledore station killing the driver Mr Emery. How the train came to be derailed was investigated by Major CB Holden, who 14 years later would go on to investigate the Cowden disaster.
The line between Ore and Ashford had been double tracked, but on the 30th September 1979 had been singled from Ore to a point 273 metres west of Appledore station with a passing loop being retained at Rye. On the approach to Appledore, the single track had been positioned on the former down line towards Ore, with a left hand spur consisting of a facing crossover for Ashford bound traffic, putting trains into the Appledore station passing loop. As is typical of South Eastern Railway (SER) built station layouts, the platforms are off set from each other. The speed limit for the crossover was 20 mph and the line immediately prior to the crossover consisted of an up hill incline of 1:480.
The empty coaching stock had consisted of three different class 201 Hastings units that were being moved from St Leonard’s to Chart Leacon for various forms of repair.
Leading the formation was Power Car 60036 of unit 1033 which was to have a bogie change. Next was Trailer Car 60541 of unit 1017 which was set for a wheel change; Power Car 60037 of unit 1033 being returned to make a pair with 60036 and therefore no attention was required; Power Car 60000 of unit 1001 for ultrasonic axle test to programme and bringing up the rear was Power Car 60001 of unit 1001, also for an ultrasonic axle test to programme. This train was run on Fridays so that workshop attention could be given at Chart Leacon to rolling stock normally based at St Leonard’s and was marshaled with power cars in pairs to ensure that there is a driving cab at each end. The condition of the stock involved in the derailment was determined to be fit to run at normal speed and no restriction of any kind had been placed upon it. None of the engines or brakes had been isolated.
An inspection immediately after the incident by Mr. A. J. Barter, Divisional Traction Engineer South Eastern Division said that although he had arrived early the next morning, only the leading vehicle had been righted. He satisfied the Inquiry that nothing on the train had any relevance to the derailment. The work for which the coaches were being returned to Chart Leacon would not have required anyone to have imposed a speed restriction, or to have placed any other restriction on the running of the train. He also confirmed that tests on the brakes had shown that they were working correctly. So what went wrong?
The journey from St Leonard’s had started normally enough at 20:17 hrs but the train had been forced to stop at Rye following the discovery of children on board who had apparently got access to the train at Hastings. How lucky were those children? At 20:55 hrs the train started off again, but was again forced to stop at Becketts level crossing, some 3 miles west of Appledore. The inquiry heard evidence that the train had then accelerated to around 60 mph towards the station with the leading bogie failing to take the curve properly and subsequently derailing. What is slightly unusual in this collision is the fact that there was a witness who was ideally placed to give evidence; as in the cab with the driver was the guard, Mr Rawlings.
Having a guard in the cab is not normal practice and this was subject of comment at the inquiry, but the guard was able to give a detailed account of the fact that the brakes had been checked at the start of the journey and that the driver had apparently not had any trouble stopping the train at Hastings. However, he was unable to say how many of the engines were actually running.
On the approach to Appledore, driver Emery had accelerated between the Distant and Home signals as the line began the climb towards the station and would have had to reapply the power once he could see that the signals were off. The guard was able to satisfy the Inquiry that the driver had been speaking to him about the line at that point so that there was no doubt that the driver knew where he was. However, the train went through the 20 mph restriction at about 60 mph where upon the leading right hand wheels derailed causing the carriage to turn over onto its left side, immediately throwing the driver out of the cab, with the remainder of the coaches following the leading carriage into derailment. The leading carriage came to rest some 18 metres past the toe of the up platform ramp.
It was concluded that the driver, who was familiar with the track layout, had either not seen the standard ‘cut-out’ sign in the dark, warning of the permanent speed restriction, or had simply forgotten about it. Whatever the reason, Driver Emery was found to be at fault for the incident and was suspected to have allowed the speed of the train to be greatly in excess of the 20 mph permanent speed limit.
The Inquiry recommended that advance warning boards should be placed at the approach of the crossover, in accordance with the recommendations following a high speed derailment at Morpeth in 1969, even though the two derailments were different in nature. This recommendation to implement the “Morpeth warning arrangements” was based on the fact the line had recently been singled and that the new warning arrangements might have reminded the driver of the location of the crossover.
Driver Emery died at the scene of the incident and the Guard, although in the cab with him, had sustained only relatively minor injuries.
A seconds lack of concentration had unfortunately caused the collision, and the driver had very harshly paid for this mistake with his life.
As a result of this incident, a number of the units had been damaged and as a consequence, the last remaining two tadpole units ,1205 and 1206, were quickly reformed into the existing Hastings fleet to replace the damaged units, just about bringing to an end the story of the Class 206 “Tadpoles”- but not quite. In May 1985, the class 206 number was resurrected when Hampshire unit 1113 was involved in a collision just outside Victoria station and two of its carriages were damaged and later scrapped. However, the unit re-entered traffic in April 1986 with two carriages from a Hastings 6L unit and was later redesignated as 206101. It made regular appearances on the Marshlink line until October 1987, when it was finally withdrawn from traffic. The unit is featured in the "Celebrity Unit" part of this website. The carriages fate was as follows,
Carriage 60036 - withdrawn immediately - March 1980
Carriage 60541 - withdrawn in May 1986
Carriage 60037 - continued on until Apr 1986 - initially as part of unit 1206 until April 1983 and then as part of unit 1107.
Carriage 60001 - withdrawn May 1986
Carriage 60000 - withdrawn May 1996.
We have been very lucky in obtaining the use of the official photos of the incident from Andy Gibbs, to whom we are especially grateful.