Friday/ the 1895 Gare Montparnasse train crash

We watched Hugo* last night.  In one of the boy’s nightmares, he dreams of the Oct 22, 1895 accident at the Gare Montparnasse station.  The train was fitted with the famous Westinghouse air brake but was going at too high a speed for to stop in time.

*Martin Scorcese’s 2011 movie (based on Brian Selznick’s book), set in 1930s Paris, about an orphan who lives in one in the Gare Montparnasse railway station.

Picture of the Gare Montparnasse train accident. The train was late, but the driver should have known better, since he had 19 years of experience!  Failing to come to a stop, the engine ploughed across almost 100 feet of the station concourse, crashed through a two feet thick wall, made it across a terrace and sailed out of the station to plummet onto the street 30 feet below. There were only 5 serious injuries among the 131 passengers and crew on the train.  Down in the street a woman was killed (by a falling piece of masonry) and another injured.
Here are the original drawings of George Westinghouse’s air brake filed with the US Patent office (1869). Westinghouse invented a system wherein each piece of railroad rolling stock was equipped with an air reservoir and a triple valve, also known as a control valve. The invention was a major contribution to railroad safety.
A panorama shot of the modern facade of the Gare Montparnasse station in Paris, France.


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