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Sunshine Rail Disaster

On April 20, 1908, 44 people were killed when two trains collided at Sunshine railway station outside Melbourne, Australia. The accident occurred just before 11pm when a heavily-packed Ballarat train stopped at Sunshine station to let off passengers returning home from their Easter holidays. As passengers disembarked, a Bendigo train, running late, sped toward the station. A station master raised his kerosene lantern to warn the oncoming driver but it raced on and crashed into the passenger train, killing 44 people and injuring over 400 in their packed wooden carriages. It took more than two hours for a relief train, with doctors, nurses and an ambulance corp on board to reach the scene. In the meantime, many people suffered, with the rescue effort hampered by inadequate lighting, a lack of electricity, doctors and water. A coronial inquiry began in the following May, during which a jury found that the drivers of both locomotives on the Bendigo train, together with the Stationmaster at Sunshine, had a case to answer. The charge of manslaughter against the stationmaster was later dropped, however the drivers appeared before the Supreme Court on that charge. The trial lasted two weeks and brought in a verdict of not guilty for both drivers of the Bendigo train. The Victorian Railways Commissioners admitted liability and paid claims aggregating £125,000 by way of compensation. In addition, there was a further £50,000 damage to rolling stock and tracks, plus the costs of the inquest and subsequent legal proceedings, which were borne by the State.

APRIL 21, 1908: MELBOURNE, VIC. Spectators and...
By News Ltd
20 April, 1908
APRIL, 1908: MELBOURNE, VIC. A view of the Sunshine...
By News Ltd
20 April, 1908
APRIL, 1908: MELBOURNE, VIC. Collapsed carriages...
By News Ltd
20 April, 1908
APRIL, 1908: MELBOURNE, VIC. Debris still lies...
By News Ltd
20 April, 1908
APRIL, 1908: MELBOURNE, VIC. A view of the Sunshine...
By News Ltd
20 April, 1908
APRIL, 1908: MELBOURNE, VIC. A view of the Sunshine...
By News Ltd
20 April, 1908
APRIL, 1908: MELBOURNE, VIC. The second class...
By News Ltd
20 April, 1908
APRIL, 1908: MELBOURNE, VIC. A steam-driven rail...
By News Ltd
20 April, 1908
APRIL, 1908: MELBOURNE, VIC. Debris is cleared...
By News Ltd
20 April, 1908
APRIL, 1908: MELBOURNE, VIC. Spectators and railway...
By News Ltd
20 April, 1908
APRIL, 1908: MELBOURNE, VIC. Collapsed carriages...
By News Ltd
20 April, 1908
APRIL, 1908: MELBOURNE, VIC. All that remained...
By News Ltd
20 April, 1908
APRIL, 1908: MELBOURNE, VIC. Twisted railway bogies...
By News Ltd
20 April, 1908
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