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Longford Derailment

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As mentioned previously, in the Roscommon train crash thread, February 1974 was not a good month for CIÉ with two serious derailments - the Roscommon one on the 16th of the month and a potentially more serious one at Longford on the 27th. Whereas the Roscommon crash featured a goods train, the one on the outskirts of Longford town involved a passenger train, the 07:45 from Sligo to Dublin.

During the early hours of the morning the bridge carrying the railway across what is now the N63 road was struck by a large container loaded on a lorry. The lorry driver reported the incident to the Gardaí who, in turn, notified CIÉ. However, due to a mix up the wrong bridge was examined by permanent way staff and, as no damage was found, the all clear was given. The bridge and track were subsequently found to be some 13 inches out of alignment.

The train consisted of locomotive A36R with 3106 (4-w Heating/Luggage Van), 1907 (Bk/Std), 1513 (Std), 1508 (Std), 2416 (Cafeteria), 2174(Composite) and 3161 (‘Dutch’ Van). The train was carrying 24 passengers and 3 crew. The locomotive derailed to the left as it crossed the bridge and ended up on its side at the foot of the embankment. The bodywork of 3106 was completely destroyed, while 1907 was severely damaged. The remainder of the train stayed upright, with all vehicles except 2174 and 3161 being derailed. Fortunately there were no major injuries largely due to there being no passengers in the two carriages that went down the embankment. Only the driver was removed to hospital, for precautionary reasons. One passenger received medical attention at Longford station but was fit enough to continue their journey to Dublin.

Recovery work involved re-railing 1508 and 2416 which, along with 2174 and 3161, were brought to Dromod. 1513 was lifted by the Inchicore and Limerick steam cranes and brought to Longford, as was the chassis of 3106. Following the removal of the carriages and vans, the embankment was repaired and the line reopened on the evening of 4 March. A36R, which had come to rest in a very awkward position, was not recovered until the weekend of 4 / 5 May, by which time a large amount of the locomotive’s brass and copper had been removed by persons from a local ‘caravan park’!


Until the evening of 4 March, train services operated Dublin-Longford and Dromod-Sligo, with bus transfers Longford-Dromod. 232 is running round its train in Longford after arriving with the morning train from Dublin.


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A59R brought the Inchicore steam crane to the Dublin side of the derailment site. The support coaches for the crane (sorry don’t have a better pic of them) were of GS&WR origin. The coach seen at right angles to the line is 1907.


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Work in progress on recovering Cravens Standard 1508. The steel hawser is attached to the carriage’s draw-hook at this end and to the one on A10R at the other end. Temporary rails were placed under the wheels of 1508 and the locomotive then dragged the carriage up the slope and back on to the running line (I presume that a risk analysis of the procedure was carried out!!!).


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A10R ready to drag 1508 up the embankment. The line of temporary rails can just be seen between the rear of the loco and the man in the white coat. The trackwork and embankment where A10R is standing has already been repaired at this stage to facilitate recovery operations. The smoke rising above 1508 is from the Inchicore steam crane.


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A36R lies on its side at the foot of the embankment. Above it are 1907 and 1513 and the remains of 3106.


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A general view of the site from the northern side of the line. From the left are: one of the Inchicore support coaches, the Inchicore steam crane, 1907, 1513 and 1508, with A36R at the foot of the embankment.


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A10R dragging 1508 up the embankment. The hawser connecting the locomotive to the carriage can be clearly seen. The staff controlling the operation are anxiously watching the wheels of 1508 to ensure they remain on the temporary rails.


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The Inchicore steam crane preparing to lift one end of 1513 so that it can be separated from 1907.


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Hope you enjoy the photos.

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Great stuff, Josefstadt! May I ask where you got the photos from?


I searched for the report on this incident in the archive at work, but unfortunately some muppet had ripped the page clean out of the relevant volume. I did manage to get a copy of a follow-up from the next week's paper, though...

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Great stuff, Josefstadt! May I ask where you got the photos from?


I took them myself. In those days before the invention of the 'Health & Safety' culture one could wander almost freely about sites like this. If you got hurt, you got hurt and it was probably your own fault. The only proviso was that you didn't interfere with the work or distract the workmen. If I remember there were quite a few interested members of the public wandering around the site.


I was lucky that this derailment, and the one at Roscommon, happened when they did. In March 1974 I started working fulltime with CIÉ and, as that involved Saturday working, I wouldn't have been able to visit the sites so easily.

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Thanks guys. I have to credit the IRRS Journal No. 64 (June 1974) for refreshing my memories on certain points in relation to both the Roscommon and Longford derailments. Also the Railway Safety Commission for details of injuries and the numbers on the train in the Longford incident which were sourced in its report 'Railway Bridges in Ireland & Bridge Strike Trends' February 2009.

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  • 5 years later...

Thanks so much for putting this on. I remember this derailment even though I was only 7yrs old at the time.

Myself and a few friends went there after the carriages were removed and the loco was still there on its side  we actually climbed up on it. There was still lots of parts scattered around the site at the time.

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