The Montparnasse derailment occurred at 16:00 on 22 October 1895 when the Granville–Paris Express overran the buffer stop at its Gare Montparnasse terminus. With the train several minutes late and the driver trying to make up for lost time, it entered the station too fast and the train air brake failed to stop it. After running through the buffer stop, the train crossed the station concourse and crashed through the station wall; the locomotive fell onto the Place de Rennes below, where it stood on its nose. A woman in the street below was killed by falling masonry.
|Date||22 October 1895|
|Operator||Chemins de fer de l'Ouest|
On 22 October 1895, the Granville to Paris and Montparnasse express, operated by Chemins de fer de l'Ouest, was made up of steam locomotive No. 721 (a type 2-4-0, French notation 120) hauling three luggage vans, a post van, and six passenger coaches. The train had left Granville on time at 08:45, but was several minutes late as it approached its Paris Montparnasse terminus with 131 passengers on board. In an effort to make up lost time, the train entered the station too fast, at a speed of 40–60 km/h (25–37 mph), and the Westinghouse air brake failed to stop it. Without sufficient braking, the momentum of the train carried it slowly into the buffers, and the locomotive crossed the almost 30-metre (98 ft) wide station concourse, crashing through a 60-centimetre (24 in) thick wall, before falling onto the Place de Rennes 10 metres (33 ft) below, where it stood on its nose. A woman in the street below was killed by falling masonry, and two passengers, the fireman, two guards and a passerby in the street sustained injuries.
The woman, Marie-Augustine Aguilard, had been standing in for her husband, a newspaper vendor, while he went to collect the evening newspapers.
The passenger carriages were undamaged and were easily removed. It took 48 hours before the legal process and investigation allowed the railway to start removing the locomotive and tender. An attempt was made to move the locomotive with 14 horses, but this failed. A 250 tonne winch, with 10 men, first lowered the locomotive to the ground and then lifted the tender back into the station. When the locomotive reached the railway workshops it was found to have suffered little damage.
The Lévy and Sons photograph (at the top of the article) has become one of the most famous in transportation history. The photograph, which is now in the public domain, is used as the cover page in the book An Introduction to Error Analysis by John Taylor. The photograph is featured on the album covers for Lean Into It by American rock band Mr. Big and Scrabbling at the Lock by Dutch rock band The Ex with Tom Cora, both first released in 1991.
A near-identical train crash in the same location appears as a dream in the novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret and its film adaptation, Hugo, and is depicted in the comic book The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec. Gordon's crash at Kirk Ronan in the Thomas & Friends episode "A Better View for Gordon" was inspired by the Montparnasse derailment.
An imitation of the Montparnasse derailment has been built outside the Mundo a Vapor ("Steam World") museum theme park in Canela, and another one at the Shopping Serra Verde in Caldas Novas, both in Brazil.
- Richou 1895, pp. 369–370.
- "Paris 1895". danger-ahead. Retrieved 24 October 2012.
- "Accident at the Gare de l'Ouest". musee-orsay. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
- Jason Zasky: Let’s Pause For a Station Break: The story behind the world’s most famous train wreck photo failuremag.com Dated 4 Jan 2003, accessed 22 October 2018
- Richou 1895, p. 370.
- "memorial". Retrieved 23 October 2012.
- "L'accident a la Gare Montparnasse". Iconic Photos. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
- Zasky, Jason. "Let's Pause For a Station Break: The story behind the world's most famous train wreck photo". failuremag.com. Retrieved 13 April 2014.
- John Robert Taylor (1997). An Introduction to Error Analysis: The Study of Uncertainties in Physical Measurements. University Science Books. ISBN 978-0-935702-75-0. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
- Mr. Big: Lean Into It allmusic.com, accessed 23 October 2018
- Scrabbling at the Lock allmusic.com, accessed 22 October 2018
- "Train". Tardi – Les Aventures Extraordinaires d'Adèle Blanc-Sec. Retrieved 1 December 2011.
- "Mundo a Vapor". mundoavapor.com.br (in Portuguese). Retrieved 23 October 2012.
- "Shopping Serra Verde" (in Portuguese). Retrieved 21 July 2017.
- Media related to the Montparnasse derailment at Wikimedia Commons