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Lewisham - 50 years on

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Next Tuesday (4/12/07) will mark the 50th anniversary of the Lewisham train crash in which 90 people lost their lives and more than 200 were seriously injured. It has been announced that a memorial service will be held at St. Johns Church, St. Johns Vale London SE8 4EA on Sunday 2/12/07 at 3pm. The church is apparently very near the scene of the accident.

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My memories of the Lewisham Disaster are scant, I was only 12 at the time but our school "The Grove" in St. Leonards had arranged a school outing to Fords of Dagenham and a visit to the Science Museum in South Ken, in the week following the crash. I can remember that as the train passed the
crash site, we seemed to crawl past, all we could see was tarpaulin shrouded shapes in the cutting, word spread through the train that this was the crash site, up to then I had been blissfully unaware of the crash and it's reprecussions and only recently (20 years ago) read extensively about the accident and saw the newreels from the John Huntley collections.

Scary to think it was it was 50 years ago next Tuesday, thankfully with the advances made to signalling and rolling stock, such an accident with such terrible death and injury is very unlikely today.

As an aside, here in Western Australia we are awaiting the opening of a completely new railway line from the City to Mandurah in the south, the line has cost 1.6 billion Aussie dollars and is over a year late in completion, this has been attributed to a worldwide shortage of signalling engineers and technicians. The signalling was extensively redesigned and is officially rated at a maximum of 140km/hr but line speeds of 155km/hr have been recorded. Trains are now being used to train the drivers and to iron out any last minute 'bugs' in the system, but the official opening is on the 23rd of December and every one in Perth gets to ride on the trains for free on that day, that includes all bus and ferry services so it will be an interesting day. They are conducting a ballot for seats on the first trains to run, there will be three trains, one for the dignitries and guests, one for the public won in the ballot and one for the members of the workforce that built the railway.

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