1977, January 18, Granville rail emergency
morning, peak hour Blue Mountains commuter train from Mt Victoria,
travelling into Sydney, crashed after derailing on an approach curve to Granville Station.
It careered along for 46 metres before striking the supports of the Bold Street
Bridge over the rail line, demolishing all 8 steel stanchions and coming to
rest 67 metres from the derailment, with carriage one, behind it, also derailed
and split open from hitting a pole. Eight died and 34 were injured in this
Carriage two also derailed and passed to the north of carriage one, coming to a
halt hard up against the concrete retaining wall lining the track. It was
relatively unscathed and there were no fatalities in this carriage.
Carriages three and four were not so lucky. The four lane concrete bridge with a weight of 570 tonnes, collapsed onto them, squashing them almost flat and trapping the passengers. 44 of carriage two's 77 passengers died, along with 31 of carriage three's complement of 64.
The other carriages were strung crookedly on the opposite/or western side). The massive response by police, civil & emergency services was complicated by the dangerous environment rescuers were working in. At the end of the third carriage the concrete slab threatened to slump lower at any moment. At the other, tonnes of loose bricks teetered on the flimsy roof.
worked with frantic care. Any slip could be fatal. At one point of the
operation rescuers could smell gas. It came from ruptured bottles of LPG used
to run the carriage heaters. With the threat of gas leaking over the site, a
further major disaster was averted when an unwitting attempt to start a small
chainsaw inside a carriage was immediately stopped. The chainsaw was taken
outside the carriage & started, first pull. If the chainsaw had started
inside the ignition of gas would have added considerably to the dead &
There were 83
deaths & 213 injuries, 83 were serious. Rescuers performed extraordinary
feats of bravery to stay with some of the injured in some areas of the wrecked
carriages considered too dangerous. The last body was not removed until 31
hours after the accident. An inquiry exonerated the train's driver & fireman,
finding the accident was caused by poorly maintained tracks.