The rail truth?

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Regarding your news article ­“Honoured 100 years on, dead of a forgotten disaster’ (23 May), my maternal grandfather, Hugh Urquhart, was the senior ­engineer of the Glasgow and South ­Western Railway which exercised running powers over the eight miles of track shared by various companies north of Carlisle.

His report differed markedly from the findings of Lt-Col Druitt’s hasty Board of Trade inquiry in noting that there was never only one cause of such a disaster and during the war this had become one of the busiest stretches of double-line railway in the UK.

The signalmen’s errors were the immediate cause, but ­chronically bad time-keeping by two late-night express sleepers from Euston – the 23:45 to ­Aberdeen and the 24:00 to ­Glasgow – caused by wealthy passengers demanding the trains wait for them, also ­contributed.

The death toll resulted from the troop train’s decommissioned gas-lit, lightweight coaches which shattered and caught fire and were only used because it was a bank holiday weekend and Caledonian’s modern ­carriages were needed to take the public to the beaches.

The trial of James Tinsley and George Meakin before the infamous “government” judge Alexander Ure (Lord Strathclyde) was a travesty and their sentences of three years, and 18 months’ hard labour, respectively a disgrace to Scottish justice.

(Rev Dr)

John Cameron

Howard Place

St Andrews

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