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HomeOn this day in Scottish HistoryQuintinshill rail disaster

Quintinshill rail disaster

On 22 May 1915, 227 people are killed and 246 more are injured in a rail crash at Quintinshill, near Gretna Green.

The accident happened when a troop train carrying almost 500 soldiers of the Royal Scots en route to Gallipoli crashed into a stationary goods train. The express train from London subsequently ran straight into the wreckage.

The Royal Scots suffered the vast majority of casualties, with 215 killed, as fire ripped through the wooden train, helped by the gas lamps used for lighting. The crash accounted for 42 per cent of the battalion’s casualties for the entire war and it remains Britain’s worst rail disaster.

The cause of the crash was due to a signalling error. Two signalmen were charged with manslaughter in England, and convicted of culpable homicide after a trial in Scotland. After they were released from jail in 1916, they were re-employed by the railway company.

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