22nd October 1979

Five killed as stalled train and express collide

Three passengers and two crew were killed and 51 others were injured when a Glasgow to Dundee train caught fire towards the end of its journey. A brake had been sticking on one of the wheel sets but, being so close to his destination, the driver elected to carry on to Dundee, believing that he would get there without any serious problems.

Unfortunately, the friction caused a fire, and the train didn’t make it as far as the end of the line.

Broken down train struck

The service ground to a halt at Invergowrie and, around ten minutes later, was struck by the oncoming Glasgow to Aberdeen express. It was travelling at around sixty miles an hour, which was enough to lift the rear four coaches of the stalled train and throw them over the sea wall. Two landed in the Firth of Tay.

That evening’s Liverpool Echo reported that “four coaches plunged down an embankment and one burst into flames. Much of the wreckage ended up in the River Tay… a postman at the scene said one carriage was lying on its side in mud: ‘The tide is out and they are working against the clock,’ he said.”

Carriage flipped over

The following day’s Birmingham Daily Post said that “Miss McLeod, who is to be married in two weeks’ time, said that the train had been stopped for about half an hour when there was a bang and the carriage was upside-down. ‘It had been thrown down on the beach. I was dazed and saw mud pouring in all around me. I thought I was going to drown in it, and I prayed’.”

A subsequent inquiry ruled that the Glasgow to Aberdeen express had passed a signal set to danger, at which it should have stopped. However, the signal appeared to be damaged, which may have caused some confusion and made it difficult to read.



Other events that occured in October

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