Swampscott train wreck

The Swampscott train wreck occurred on February 28, 1956, in Swampscott, Massachusetts when a DanversBoston commuter train crashed into the rear of a stopped Portsmouth–Boston local train just north of the station during a snowstorm. The collision, blamed on the engineer operating at unsafe speeds for the conditions, killed 13 people and injured 283.[1][2]: 317 

Swampscott train wreck
DateFebruary 28, 1956
Time8:10 am
LocationSwampscott, Massachusetts
Coordinates42°28′38″N 70°55′05″W / 42.47722°N 70.91806°W / 42.47722; -70.91806
CauseRear-end collision between moving train and stopped train
Non-fatal injuries100+

Accident edit

On the morning of February 28, 1956, Train 214 departed from Portsmouth, New Hampshire for Boston. The diesel locomotive was scheduled to depart Portsmouth at 6:40 a.m. and make ten stops before arriving in Boston at 8:14 a.m.[3] However, due to a blizzard and power-failure problems, Train 214 had made three unscheduled stops, the final of which occurred just short of the Swampscott station.[4] Due to the snow, the conductor was unable to read the track signals and he stopped the train to use a signal phone a couple hundred yards down the track to call the Lynn signal tower to ask about the signal indication.[5]

Train 2406, a Buddliner, was scheduled to depart Danvers, Massachusetts at 7:13 a.m. and make four or five stops before arriving in Boston at 8:33 a.m.[3]

At 8:10 a.m., Train 2406, which was traveling from Salem, Massachusetts at a speed of roughly 50 miles per hour, crashed into the back of the stationary Train 214. There were 1,000 passengers on the two trains at the time of the accident. 11 passengers and the conductor and fireman of Train 2406 were killed and 71 passengers from both trains were hospitalized. Most of the deceased were traveling in the lead car of Train 2406, which had its roof and one side torn off. The cars were so badly mangled it took over six hours to free all of the trapped passengers. Over 800 police, fire, civil defense, and Red Cross workers were at the scene, with police from as far as 20 miles away responding. A first aid station was set up in a nearby lumber yard and garage and the Swampscott fire station was used as a temporary morgue. The deceased were transported via a moving van that had been passing the scene of the accident.[5]

At 9:45 a.m. around 100 of the survivors of the Swampscott train wreck were injured in a second wreck when one of the trains they were traveling in collided with a stalled train also carrying survivors. However, because the train was traveling very slowly at the time of the collision, there were no fatalities and only one serious injury.[6]

Investigation edit

The accident was investigated by the Boston and Maine Railroad, the Interstate Commerce Commission, and the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities.[5] It was the ICC's first investigation into a railroad accident since the 1953 Pennsylvania Railroad train wreck.[7] The ICC and DPU chose to hold joint hearings into the accident.[8]

The Boston and Maine Railroad found the conductor of Train 2406 to blame for the accident. He had passed through two warning signals and passed a flagman from Train 214 prior to the accident. If he was unable to see these signals due to the storm, the operating rules of the railroad required him to stop the train.[5]

The Interstate Commerce Commission's investigation found no mechanical issues with the Buddliner and determined the train shouldn't have been traveling that fast.[9]

References edit

  1. ^ "Train Crashed at 50 M.P.H., Three Say". Boston Globe. March 9, 1956. pp. 1, 13 – via Newspapers.com.
  2. ^ Karr, Ronald Dale (2017). The Rail Lines of Southern New England (2 ed.). Branch Line Press. ISBN 9780942147124.
  3. ^ a b "Timetables of Trains Involved in Wreck". The Boston Daily Globe. February 29, 1956.
  4. ^ Phipps, Greg (February 25, 2016). "History: Train wreck still resonates". Cape Ann Beacon. Retrieved 22 August 2022.
  5. ^ a b c d Linscott, Seymour (February 29, 1956). "Probe 13-Death Wreck: B & M Blames Dead Budd Liner Engineer". The Boston Daily Globe.
  6. ^ "Two Railroad Wrecks in One Day Enough for Seven B&M Riders". The Boston Daily Globe. February 29, 1956.
  7. ^ "ICC Intervenes First Time Since '53 Capital Crash". The Boston Daily Globe. February 29, 1956.
  8. ^ "Joint Hearing Tuesday by I. C. C. and D. P. U.". The Boston Daily Globe. February 29, 1956.
  9. ^ Ostuni, Amanda (February 26, 2016). "Swampscott train wreck recalled 60 years later". The Salem News. Retrieved 22 August 2022.