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ACCIDENTS

The following appear to be the only recorded accidents pertaining to The GSSR although there were surely many more.

14 September 1907Explosion of the boiler of No 2 (LORCA). This was due to the build up of lime (see History), a perennial problem for The GSSR. The accident happened on the stretch between Tíjola and Purchena here. Both the driver and fireman were killed.

The accident resulted in The GSSR having to look at ways of resolving the hard water problem. With respect to the failure, it can be assumed that a pressure release valve became clogged up with limescale thus allowing the boiler pressure to increase above critical thus resulting in the failure of the boiler. However, this would also suggest that the crew were somewhat remiss in their vigilance of the boiler pressure gauge. A boiler over-pressure should result in a member of crew releasing a manual pressure release valve or, if seized, the dampening or 'dropping' of the fire.

The other possibilty was that the crew allowed the water level in the boiler to fall below the top of the firebox, thus distorting it. There is an excellent photograph of the debris by Gustave Gillman in the book 'Almería Insólita' by Juan Roberto Gillman Mellezo and Juan Grima. We will never know exactly what happened but it goes to show how dangerous steam locomotives are when not used correctly.
16 January 1917Military train No 352 ran over a cavalryman at Km. 18.700 without serious injury.
16 January 1917At Km. 58.700 there could have been a serious accident when a goods train met a police vehicle coming in the opposite direction. The situation was saved by the skills of the engine driver Mr. Ibañez, who was able to stop the train 250m from the police vehicle.
16 March 1918José Juan De Haro, a worker in El Hornillo had a fall from a great height whilst at work. He was found to have a serious head injury and was transferred to the hospital. He was visited in hospital by The Director, George Boag and Mr. Browne, the Head of Traction. The accident caused a paralysis that rendered him unable to return to work.
7 April 1918Train 253 fire on arrival at Almanzora Station. Fire extinguished by station staff and those on the train thus avoiding a conflagration. It is unclear why Train 253 suffered so many fires. Possibilities that come to mind are a siezed wheel bearing, arson and sparks from the locomotive's chimney.
12 April 1918Train 253 fire on arrival at Cantoria Station. Fire extinguished by station staff and the train crew thus avoiding a conflagration. See 7 April 1918.
July 1918Domingo Ibart Ferrez suffers a fracture of the right tibia due to slipping whilst unloading a tyre in the workshops.
9 July 1918Train 253 fire between Puerto Lumbreras and Almalajejo
August 1918A number of minor accidents in the workshops - a lathe operator received contusions of the left foot; an apprentice received a contusion of the left hand; a lathe operator receives burns on his left arm.
October 1918El Hornillo worker Alfonso Cáceres, 58, suffered a broken leg. The doctors decided that to save his life, they would have to amputate. Unfortunately, in spite of this, he died. The widow received the sum of 1,500 pesetas.
26 November 1918Boiler explosion of No 1 (MURCIA) near Cantoria Station throwing shrapnel great distances. Unfortunately No51 was stationary in the station which resulted in five persons injured but thankfully no fatalities. Luckily, it was the smoke-box end of the boiler (front) which saved the crew. The service was rapidly resumed by replacing the locomotive with another.
14 December 1918Fire in two wagons of straw of Train 253 at Km 75.600. Fire extinguished and 38 bales were saved.
21 December 1918Fire in a wagon of straw of Train 253 at Km 45.150. Contents of wagon totally destroyed.
31 December 191860 year old woman killed by Train B 239 at Km 93.522 by throwing herself in front. She died immediately.
February 1919A mother bringing lunch to her son who was working in the workshops at Águilas Station. She was run over by a locomotive that was shunting at the time.
25 February 1919Fire in Train 253 loaded with fertilizer. The staff fought bravely to extinguish the fire before it could spread, receiving burns in the process.
27 February 1919Fire in a wagon of fertilizer in Train 253 at Km 28.000. Extinguished due to the heroics of the train staff and those of Las Norias Station.
7 March 1920Workshop accident - two workers receive injuries to their feet due to glass.
10 March 1920A child, trying illegally to board Train 51 in Lorca Station falls and receives injuries to face, hand and feet, and a tear in his right thigh. A passenger rescued him and took him to Puerto Lumbreras Station where he received treatment in a clinic. This event resulted in The Director General writing to the mayors of Lorca and Baza requesting vigilance by the local police in preventing young children accessing the platforms and boarding the trains illegally as this was becoming a serious problem.
7 July 1920The mother of the level crossing lady hit by Train No 1 (MURCIA) at Km 6.337, dying whilst in the hands of a local doctor.
15 April 1920Train 2, whilst stationary in El Apartadero the staff noticed smoke coming from a wagon of sulphur. With great courage, the staff isolated the wagon and then proceeded to unload the smoking bags of sulphur, risking poisoning from the gases and smoke being emitted. They managed to suffocate the fire within 50 minutes and continued the journey with the offending wagon half full.
February 1921Workshop accidents: a burnt left hand; contusions; contusion to left foot.
18 June 1923Fire in a wagon of fertilizer in Train 253 near to Puerto Lumbreras Station. It was noticed that heat was coming from a wagon of fertilizer. The staff reversed the train back to Puerto Lumbreras Station whereby they split the train. The wagon of fertilizer couldn't be saved in spite of heroic efforts and the wagon and its contents burned to cinders.
September 1923A second lieutenant travelling Cartagena to Almería alighted at Puerto Lumbreras Station, returning to the train as it was leaving and boarding a different coach. In trying to climb between the coaches to his coach, he fell and the train ran over his legs. Dr Alejandro Santamaría was called from Águilas Station to assist the medical staff at the scene. The patient was taken to Águilas Hospital.
August 1919Francisco Reche Navarro, the manager of El Hornillo recieves an injury to his hand due to a lump of iron ore being unloaded from a wagon.
20 August 1919Minor injury in Cantoria when the guard shut a train door and trapped his fingers of the left hand.
June 1920Persons unknown caused the derailment of a mineral train. Fortunately, no-one was hurt. A few days later, obstacles were placed on the rails.
30 October 1922Accident in Águilas Station whereby a foreman was loading items from Ways and Works and a trough fell on his left leg causing a complex contusion and a tibial fracture. He was given First Aid by the Station Manager and soon received treatment from The GSSR doctor Sr. Alejandro Santamaría who removed a shard of bone from his leg. He was returned to his home whereby the doctor administered anti-tetanus vaccine.
25 May 1927The catastrophe at Pulpí between iron ore train No244 and mail train No 2.
The order of events were as follows:

13.22 - A mixed train No 2 with Loco No 9 (ALBOX) leaves Almendricos on time.
13.42 - The train arrives at Pulpí. On arrival, a message was sent to Almendricos saying that they could release the iron ore train.
13.42 - Iron ore train 244 leaves Almendricos. On passing down the incline, the driver notices that his brakes have failed and that he is gaining speed. He blows his whistle continuously to warn the staff. Almendricos contact Pulpí and the mail train leaves in the direction of Jaravía under full power but was unable to attain sufficient velocity to avoid the accident. The iron ore train 244 smashed into the back of No 2 at Km 10.220 at a velocity of approximately 56Km/h.
Seven people died immediately and three more later, and there were more than twenty injured.
14.45 - train No 3 leaves Águilas Station with staff from The GSSR including George Boag, Dr Alejandro Santamaría and Dr Calero. These employees, along with a doctor from the town, helped the injured and the dying. The survivors were transferred to Águilas Hospital.

So, why did the brakes fail? The braking systems on The GSSR were the vacuum type. Unlike modern braking systems which work on compressed air, the vacuum brakes used by The GSSR were not fail-safe, meaning that if there were a loss of vacuum (badly connected hose for example), then the brakes on the whole train simply would fail.
8 October 1929During shunting in Huércal Overa Station, thirteen wagons became disconnected from Train 254 and started rolling down the incline towards Almajalejo, gaining speed and crashing with iron ore Train No 2 at Km 43.100. The crew of Train No 2 had little or no warning due to the curvature of the track in that area. The wagons mounted the double headed train and flew down the side of the embankment. The wagons were full of esparto which, along with the two locomotives, caught fire which promptly resulted in a huge conflagration. A rescue train was rapidly dispatched to the site with The Director General (George Boag) and other technical staff. One of the duties they had was to remove the dead body of the driver (some say it was the brakeman) from the carnage. Because the debris was blocking the track, they had to look at a way of constructing a diversion, which would prove very difficult considering the topography of the area, and the detritus from the accident. As a result of a huge amount of work by all concerned, and materials brought from stores, the line was re-opened on 13th, just five days later. Locomotive No 50 was a write-off and No 21 badly damaged. In addition, there were eight wagons completely destroyed, a third class coach, eight series W wagons (iron ore) and all of the goods that were loaded in the 13 wagons. The material loss alone cost The GSSR 500,000 pesetas.



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