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ParisMontparnasse Train Accident

On October 22nd 1895 in Paris, a train on the Granville line failed to stop and crashed into the street. The train, arriving at Montparnasse station (then known as Gare de l'Ouest), stopped only after crashing thru Montparnasse's front facade ending up almost vertical in the street below. At the time, the end of the line was only a few feet from the Montparnasse's front facade. So there was little buffer room between the terminus and facade.

The 11 car train was running late and the conductor was trying to make up time after departing 9 minutes behind schedule. Arriving at the station the train's driver braked late. The emergency brakes were then applied but they failed. That only left the locomotive’s brakes, they were insufficient to stop the train.

The train's driver was fined 50 francs and jailed for two months. The conductor was fined 25 francs. Of the train's 131 passengers, only two were injured. One person was killed. The operator of a newspaper stand on rue de Rennes, who was replacing her husband for the day. She was killed not by the train but from falling rocks. There were three other injured, a fireman and two railroad workers.

It took four days to remove the train. In that time numerous photos were taken, including the photo above that has gone down as one of the greatest epic fail photos of all time. Astonishingly, the locomotive sustained almost no damage!

Another view of the accident.

Montparnasse Train tation early in the 20th century.

Montparnasse in 2007.

Photo by Tilemahos Efhtimiadis. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

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other view of the accident.