Glanrhyd Bridge collapse

On 19 October 1987, a train on the Heart of Wales line derailed and fell into the River Towy due to the partial collapse of the Glanrhyd Bridge near Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire. Four people died as a result of the tragedy; the driver and three of the passengers drowned.

Glanrhyd Bridge collapse
Date19 October 1987
LocationLlandeilo, Carmarthenshire
CountryWales, UK
LineHeart of Wales Line
CauseBridge swept away
List of UK rail accidents by year

Description edit

The event took place early on Monday 19 October 1987. Several days prior, the Great Storm of 1987 occurred, causing widespread damage to infrastructure across Britain. On the Sunday afternoon, a driver who had been attending to engineering works in Llandrindod Wells reported flooding along the line. The responsible traffic manager, after investigation and some deliberation, decided to accompany the first train out on the Monday: the 05:27 from Swansea to Shrewsbury.

The 05:27, which consisted of a two-car Class 108 DMU, fell into the River Towy near Llandeilo at approximately 07:15. The accident was caused by the Glanrhyd Bridge being partially washed away by the swollen river. The train was moving at only 10 mph (16 km/h), which was the normal speed limit for this bridge.[1]

Carwyn Davies, a nearby farmer (and amateur rugby player for Llanelli),[2] had waited until 07:00 for daylight so he could investigate the flooding on his farm. He was 400 yards (370 m) from the bridge in a flooded field when he saw that a central section of the railway bridge was missing. He attempted to return to his house to telephone a warning, but had not reached there when he heard the train approaching and saw the first carriage "take off" from the bridge.[3] Davies later helped rescuers to reach the bridge using his tractor.[2]

Of the ten people on board the train, three passengers and three members of British Rail staff managed to escape but the driver and three passengers drowned.[4] Staff on board included a Traffic Manager and an Engineer who were accompanying the train to inspect the route after reports of flooding and track damage had been received the previous day.[5] The train left the tracks and fell into the swollen river at Glanrhyd Bridge, though the rear carriage remained partially on the rails and above water. While the passengers and staff were calmly making their way through to the rear carriage, the front carriage broke away and was swept downstream with the driver and three of the passengers (a married couple and a teenage schoolboy) still inside.[1][6]

A result of the incident was that the procedures for checking railway bridges were tightened. Over the following 20 years there were no other rail passenger fatalities in Wales.[1]

Sources edit

  • Report on the Collapse of Glanrhyd Bridge on 19th October 1987 (PDF). Department of Transport. 31 January 1990. ISBN 0-11-550961-5.

References edit

  1. ^ a b c Clark, Rhodri (19 October 2007). "Rail travel in Wales is so safe, the most dangerous part of a train journey is getting to the station". Western Mail. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
  2. ^ a b "From the Archives A Glimpse Back in Time". Llanelli Star. 24 October 2012. Archived from the original on 29 March 2015. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
  3. ^ Report on the Collapse of Glanrhyd Bridge (1990), page 5
  4. ^ Report on the Collapse of Glanrhyd Bridge (1990), page 1
  5. ^ Report on the Collapse of Glanrhyd Bridge (1990), pages 2-5
  6. ^ Report on the Collapse of Glanrhyd Bridge (1990), page 7

External links edit

51°55′31″N 3°54′36″W / 51.92534°N 3.90994°W / 51.92534; -3.90994