The speaker at Thorncombe Rail Activities Club’s (TRAC) October meeting was Malcolm Garner, and he gave a talk on the 1968 Hixon Rail Disaster.

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This occurred at one of the new automatic barrier level crossings which had recently been introduced. A heavy transporter was carrying a 120 ton transformer on a long low-loader travelling at low speed. The whole unit was nearly 150 feet long. As it crossed the main railway line from Manchester to London, it was struck by an express passenger train travelling at high speed.

The causes of this accident were thoroughly investigated and revealed that both British Railways and Wynn’s, the road haulage company, had failed to properly inform the public on the one hand, and ensure the drivers understood the dangers of these crossings on the other.

The result was a collision that killed eleven people, and injured 45, of which six were serious injuries.

As a result of this accident, much improved signage and information was created to reduce the risk of a repeat incident.

The next meeting of TRAC is on Wednesday, November 21, when Alan Reeve will give a talk entitled More Steam in the 1960s. This will be at 7.30pm in the village hall at Thorncombe.

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