[June 10, 1911 – New Zealand Herald]
A train of 18 ballast waggons, drawn by a heavy engine, broke away as it was running down the grade from the scoria pit at Mount Albert yesterday morning, and crashed into eight stationary trucks on the siding above the Mount Albert station. Five of the trucks were destroyed, some damage was done to the engine, and for nearly two hours traffic on the main Kaipara line was disorganised. Shortly before 10 o’clock the train was stalled from the scoria tip below the quarry, the 18 hopper waggons’ and the brake van which it comprised being hauled by an 80-ton engine of the WF class. The grade of the branch line is 1 in 40 crossing the main road and curving round into a siding with a dead-end a short distance above the Mount Albert railway station. Six of the trucks were fitted with Westinghouse brakes, which were connected with the locomotive, and on four of the others the hand brakes had been put on. The load represented about 63 tons of scoria, and in ordinary circumstances the brake-power would have been sufficient to control the progress of the train, but the rails were slippery, and as the train was approaching the level crossing it broke away and ran down the incline at a rapidly-increasing speed. The driver, McPhail, endeavoured to arrest it by reversing the engine, but his action was ineffective.
Trucks Reduced to Scrap.
There was fortunately no traffic upon the level crossing as the runaway train passed over it, for in less favourable circumstances a more serious result must have attended the accident. The train ran on to the siding at a considerable speed, until it was brought to a standstill by colliding with a string of eight ballast trucks of the M class, loaded with scoria, which were standing at the end of the line. The result was the immediate destruction of five of the trucks, the derailment of the locomotive, and the blocking of the main line. One truck was thrown upon the one next to it, and the two vehicles which received the full force of the impact were reduced to scrap, the woodwork being broken into kindling, and the iron framework being shattered. Three of the other trucks were overturned and damaged beyond repair. The remaining three, waggons were only slightly damaged.
Train Crew Escape Injury.
The locomotive was completely derailed, and immediately it left the line it ploughed into the ballast until the main structure was resting upon the ground. The cow-catcher and other parts of the head of the engine, were badly damaged, and oil-pipes, water-leads and other frail parts were broken. None of the hopper-waggons left the rails or sustained any damage, and the driver and the fireman who remained on the engine were uninjured. At the spot where the collision occurred, the line was torn up in a remarkable fashion, one length of rail being bent into a perfectly symmetrical curve like the letter 0.
Main Line Quickly Cleared.
The wreckage caused by the collision completely blocked the main line, but no time was lost in clearing the way for traffic. The inspector of permanent ways (Mr. J. Northcott) was at the quarry at the time, and he at once summoned the relaying gang, which was at work at Avondale, and within a couple of hours, a section of about live chains of the main line was taken up and relaid round the obstruction. The passenger train from Helensville, which is due to arrive at Auckland at 10.18 a.m., reached the obstruction shortly after the accident, and it was delayed for about an hour and three-quarters, reaching Auckland a few minutes before noon. The motor-train, which left Newmarket for Henderson at 9.20 a.m., was delayed for about the same time, and when it reached its destination, it was too late to make its usual return trip, and the service from Henderson, starting at 10.27 a.m. was omitted. Another train was put on to make the 11.45 a.m. running, and this one and the 10. a.m. train to Helensville were not delayed. During the morning the ballast train was despatched to Helensville, and throughout the day a gang of men was engaged in breaking down the wreckage.