The Purley train crash.

At 1:39pm on a rainy Saturday in 1989, a Littlehampton to Victoria express train crashed into the rear of a Horsham to Victoria bound train.  
Purley train crash , derailed train

A terrible accident

The collision derailed the train and six carriages careered down the embankment.

It was a terrible accident – the trains should have been two-and-a-half minutes apart.

Local residents rushed to the accident scene, many using their own ladders and tools in a bid to rescue and reassure those trapped in the carriages.


Kevin Williams, who spoke to the BBC at the time said:

We were trying to break the glass to get people out. We had a section which was a first class section of the train, which we had to break the doors off to get people out.
Purley train crash , derailed trains

What was learned?

A Department of Transport railway accident report stated a Brigade pump was delayed due to "the number of private motor cars parked in the narrow cul-de-sac" close to the embankment.

The clean-up operation took five days and the Brigade remained on site until Thursday, 9 March 1989.


Tragic consequences

The Purley train crash claimed the lives of five people and left 88 injured.

Purley train crash

Learning from Purley

Inspired by the terrible events of Purley and Moorgate, we now undertake an exercise called the Exercise Unified Response (EUR).

This tests first responders, and ensures our crews continue to learn from the past and train for future events.