Trains are huge pieces of equipment, so when they derail, they are usually devastating. Take a look at 13 of the worst train derailments from over the years.
During India’s monsoon season, this nine-car train plunged in to the Baghmati River. When the train neared the bridge that crosses the river, a cow crossed the tracks. in his attempt to miss the cow, the conductor hit the brakes too hard, causing the carriages to slide off the tracks. It’s estimated that 500-800 people were killed.
In a dense fog, an electric train was rammed in to by a steam train closely following it in London. After the collision, the bridge collapsed on to the steam train, causing catastrophic damage. It took over a month before the bridge was rebuilt and traffic was allowed over it.
Los Angeles, 1948
A Santa Fe diesel locomotive ran off the end of the tracks and stopped just short of going over the edge. A Pacific Electric pole helped slow down the train enough from falling 20 feet below. No one was hurt in this accident, but the image is a lasting one.
A cleaning woman in Stockholm accidentally turned on the train while cleaning the cab. The train accelerated at a high speed to the end of the tracks, jumped across a street, and finally crashed in to a house. The woman was injured in the accident, but thankfully no other passengers were on the train at the time.
On a cold, rainy evening in 2007, this Virgin Pendolino derailed in the village of Grayrigg. In just a matter of moments, eight of the carriages were jettisoned from the rails at 95 miles per hour. Only one casualty was reported — an 84-year-old woman who died in the hospital.
New York, 1946
Two stubborn train conductors were trying to leave the Gloversville station at the same time. They decided to race each other and it didn’t turn out well. No injuries were reported, but the conductors left with damage to their pride.
In December of 1917, French soldiers were returning home for Christmas. Due to locomotive shortages, almost 1,000 soldiers were packed in to two trains that were pulled by only one engine. While descending down a valley on the French side of the Alps, the brakes began to overheat. Fires broke out under the carriages, causing derailment shortly after. Sadly, an estimated 800-1000 casualties were reported.
This 26-carriage train suffered brake failure while descending down a steep bank. The conductors tried everything they could to slow the train, but it continued to gain speed during the descent. To prevent crashing in to another train, it was switched on to a loop. The high speeds were too much though, causing the train to derail and catch fire.
This train derailed at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. The operator reportedly “dozed off” and caused the accident, injuring over 30 people.
In 1995, two trains collided near Firozabad. The accident was caused by jammed brakes after one of the trains hit a cow. Nearly 200 people were reported dead and another 200 were injured.
The Eschede train crash was the world’s deadliest high-speed train accidents. A single fatigue crack on one of the wheels cause the train to derail at a switch. A total of 101 people were killed, and another 88 were injured.
The Granville-Paris Express overran the buffer stop at the Gare Montparnasse in Paris. The train crashed through a 2-foot thick wall and plummeted 33 feet to the street below. Luckily, only two passengers were injured from the crash, but one woman on the street was killed by falling masonry.
Sri Lanka, 2004
In 2004, an earthquake produced a gigantic tsunami that hit Sri Lanka. This train was stopped by the first wave of the tsunami, but that was only the beginning. Local residents began climbing on the train, thinking it was safer than being on the ground. A second wave hit, throwing the train off the tracks and trapping hundreds underwater. More than 1,700 people were reported dead.