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Link - by A. Abrams

Where does "as irresistible as a train wreck" phrase comes from?

These are wicked and miserable accidents and derailments, some of them large-scale, caused by a single error of the machinist or the controller, big enough to be recorded in history books... And yet, multitudes of bystanders (just like in O'Henry story) keep looking upon such carnage with morbid fascination, lost in time and perhaps in their mind, wondering what really took place and how the catastrophe unfolded:

Retro Section

Looking forward to a safe trip?

(image via)

Your faithful black-n-white silent-movie renditions of these events... trains were more widespread than automobiles, so train wrecks were all over the place:

(images via)

Train wreck at Montparnasse in Paris, France, 1895:

(image credit: Studio Lévy and Sons)

Train wreck in Ukraine, ca 1917:

(image credit: Voron)

Wreckage of Soviet Army train on the way to World War II battle lines, and a wreck of the German supply train:

(images credit: Olgacir)

(image via)

Poor Thomas the Tank Engine... did this really happen? (ask Ringo Starr who did a narration on the original series) -

(image via)

But then again, our ancestors were able to laugh about it, too:

(image via)

Modern Times

Some of the nameless Russian train wrecks (not much information about those, sadly). Pictures via Russian RailRoad Club:

(images via Ankornil, RailRoad Club)

Unintended condensation caused the car full of vapors to collapse upon itself (implode):

"The general-purpose tank car in the photo below was being steam cleaned in preparation for maintenance. The job was still in progress at the end of the shift so the employee cleaning the car decided to block in the steam. The car had no vacuum relief so as it cooled, the steam condensed and the car imploded." Keep in mind that steam has around 1600 times the volume of condensed water - also see the video!

"No one can serve two masters..."

(image via)

All over the place... (this accident happened in June 2006 in Toronto, Canada, no one was hurt) -

(image credit: TopFlight)

Nowhere to go, can't backup either:

(image via)

Canadian National engines vs. a landslide:

Climbing higher, and higher... No brakes on this "metro" train in Hungary:

(image via)

A train in Malaysia reached the end of the track (brake failure)

More than 1,000 repurposed New York City Subway cars were sunk off the eastern seaboard - to serve as a sort of a marine barrier, and as a playground for scuba divers:

(read more info)

These kinds of accidents often go "unsung" and unnoticed by the general public, and my guess is, a lot of them still happen, blamed on brakes, or human error:

(images via)

I wonder what happened here? Just vandalism?

(image via)

This one has quite a ways to go down... "The high winds of 17 February 2006 have pushed this freight train off off of its tracks while it was crossing a bridge over the St-Laurence River on its way Montreal." -

(image credit: Andre Nantel)

Encountering something bigger than itself... a humbling and shattering experience:

(image via)

When used train cars can no longer be serviceable, they get transformed (in a very practical-minded Russia, of course) into trailers and.... churches:

Disappearing into nothing; what awaits around the corner? -

(original unknown)

Breath easy - this is Photoshop:

(image credit: Worth1000

Utterly Surreal: Tilt-Shift Train Wrecks

These are not models, these are photos of the actual super-wreck (which happened in Galt IL, May 3, 2005) re-touched with Photoshop trickery:

(images credit: AstroChimp, see the whole set here)

For a spectacular finish, watch this video: what happens when a loaded train hits nuclear waste transport containers at 100 miles an hour? -


And then, there is this harrowing and rare video, where train derails - too close for comfort - captured by camera... and a train running from a tornado.


Also Read:
Airplanes Oops! accidents
Tank Accidents, parts 1-3


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

The picture with two green tram cars is most probably taken in the AnsaldoBreda workshop.
The damaged vehicle on the right was involved in a crash in Milan, near Porta Romana, on 10 october 2008: it derailed due to an error of the driver, who was using his mobile phone while driving.
After going out of the track, the Jumbotram hit another tram, an older model made in 1927 (those tram, called "Carrelli" are one of the symbols of the city).
Noone was injured, but people on the older vehicle got blocked inside the car due to a failure of emergency opening of the doors.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The video at the end isn't a train hitting a concrete wall, it is a crash test for nuclear waste transport containers. The container is on a flatbed train car that has been turned on it's side, and the train hits the container (the yellow box)

Anonymous David said...

Sorry if you know this already, but it has happened that trains that are to be scrapped have been cleaned up and then dumped in the sea to make artificial reefs for wildlife and divers to enjoy. That may explain the underwater image. Or maybe not! :-)

Anonymous WrathofDog said...

The crushed black tanker car was the result of implosion. "The general-purpose tank car in the photo below was being steam cleaned in preparation for maintenance. The job was still in progress at the end of the shift so the employee cleaning the car decided to block in the steam. The car had no vacuum relief so as it cooled, the steam condensed and the car imploded." Keep in mind that steam has around 1600 times the volume of condensed water.

Two links:

How tank car implosions work.

Lessons Learned in 2001: Over/Under Pressure Relief Required for System Safety from the Richland Operations Office Department of Energy

Anonymous Chairborne Ranger said...

I'd have to watch the episode again, but the underwater subway car is probably a screencap from an episode of CSI: New York. It' looks awfully familiar...

The train on the "unfinished" bridge is out there deliberately; there's nothing that will stop it from backing up in that image.

The imploded tank car might be from a test/demonstration that was done - I'd have to dig out the video again and see if it's the same location.

Anonymous Trainrider said...

Train disaster happen quite often, luckily mostly without fatalities. One example for a catastrophe is the disaster in Eschede/Germany, where a high-speed train derailed and collided with a bridge, killing 101 people on board.


Anonymous paul said...

montparnasse is a station in paris, france, quite in the center of the city. its original name is "gare montparnasse". from there, trains depart to the south-western part of france.

Anonymous paul said...

(concerning img #4. thought you should make that clear. it really happend in the heart of paris)

Blogger Avi Abrams said...

Thank you WrathofDog (cool nick!) post updated with a video link; good info, all - updated.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Nowhere to go, can't backup either" Is a photoshop job, and a terrible one at that. You don't even have to look that closely to tell.

Blogger rhea_sun said...

The CN on the side of the train stands for Canadian National (not pacific).

Anonymous Kyla said...

You should look up the train wreck in Prince George, British Columbia about 2 years ago. We all stood in the park and watched the train burning across the river. You could see the smoke all around town.

Anonymous Jack said...

Picture #6 in the Russian section shows two rubber tired wheels attached to some wreckage between the two trains. The spiked objects to the right are diamond harrows which are not quite obsolete farm equipment. There's another harrow in the center further back and a badly bent on on the left. The wreckage with wheels is the harrow cart. It looks like a farmer was crossing the track when he shouldn't have.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ad. Utterly Surreal: Tilt-Shift Train Wrecks
I'm not convinced... these look as actulal tilt-shift photos, not "PS trickery". Of course tilt-shift can be immitated by retouching a photo on PS or other software but why bother? The fun You get with a tilt shift lens (such as PC-E Nikkor 24mm for example) is worth a lot more than time spent on your PS. The PS tilt-shift retouched photos will NEVER look as good as taken with an actual perspective-correction lens.
Peace to You all. I love this blog.

Blogger Marc said...

The photo of former New York City rollingstock unit 9577 is *definitely* not a train wreck. As someone mentioned before, this is one of the repurposed Redbirds that have been stripped of usable parts, cleaned, and dumped off the eastern seaboard. Please get it right, or note it.

If you're going to show an accident involving NYC rollingstock, at least show a real accident

Blogger Avi Abrams said...

Great info, Mark - updated

Anonymous Merlynne6 said...

Check this out.. Two photos of the only train wreck in US history where four steam locomotive trains collided... occurred at East Thompson Connecticut, Dec.4, 1891.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nowhere to go, can't backup either:
This is the BNSF bridge over the Columbia River at Wishram,Washington.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Image #31 happens in Malaysia, it was on local news. It was the end of the rail, but the train couldn't stop because of brake malfunction.

Anonymous ujanja said...

were the 1000 trains that sunk in the UN States pulled out?

Blogger Marc said...

@ujanja They were intentionally put there to encourage reef growth on the otherwise flat and featureless ocean floor along the eastern seaboard off the coast of the Carolinas. This reef growth has also been great for tourism and fishing in the area.


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