The Moorgate Train Disaster

The Moorgate Train Disaster

The first metropolitan subterranean railway system in the world was built in London back in 1863 when the trains that ran on it were still powered by steam.

In the mid 1890’s the subterranean system switched over from steam to electricity and the railway routes grew to expand over the whole of London and selected parts of the Home Counties.

What initially started off as a one-track-system (from east London to west) now consists of 11 separate railway tracks that spider the way underneath the historic city.

28 February 1975

On the 28th of February, 1975, something went horribly wrong in the underground system resulting in a full commuter train crashing inside a tunnel just outside Moorgate Station.

The tragic journey started off at 08:38 that morning when it departed from Drayton Park (apparently it was running about approximately 60 seconds late!).

By the time it reached Moorgate station it was estimated that around 300 commuters had boarded the train at various points in it’s journey.

All London Underground trains are advised to reduce their speed to no more than 15 mph when they are approaching a station. For some reason this particular train sped right through Moorgate at speeds of at least 30 mph.

It left a group of bewildered witnesses on the platform who were due to board the train.

The Sand Drag

The London Underground has a safety system in place that is called the Sand Drag. It basically works as a spare track which out of control vessels are led onto to be stopped safely.

On the day of the disaster this train managed to completely smash through this Sand Drag system and ended up being dislodged by the buffer struts. It finally came to an end by striking a solid concrete wall.

The first emergency services on the scene believed that a regular 4 car train had simply overshot the platform area. When they travelled deeper into the tunnel they soon realized the extent of the tragedy.

The first two and a half cars of the train had been telescoped by the force of the impact into half their proper length – the lead car had somehow ended up wedged into the tunnel roof system.


The rescue operation that followed consisted of over 1600 emergency personnel joined by hundreds of volunteers. The disaster resulted in 74 injured passengers and 43 fatalities.

Passengers of The Moorgate Train Disaster

The final body to come out of the train was the actual train driver – a 56 year old father of two called Leslie Newson.


The public needed to know why this disaster happened so the train wreck underwent an in-depth investigation by experts.

A number of faulty components were located within the train wreck but all of them were put down to the impact and the direction of the crash – none of them were thought to have caused it.

Investigators then decided to move onto the train driver, Leslie Newson. He had a clean bill of health – no signs of cardiac problems nor any conditions such as epilepsy.

Close friends to Newson also claimed that he was an extremely careful driver and had been a tee-totaler for many, many years.

When the investigators first came across his body in the train there were no indications that he had done anything to prevent injury to himself.

The Mystery of Newson

In the aftermath of the crash, investigators came across a few red flags when looking into the recent history of the train driver.

The week before the crash, it was reported by another guard that Newson’s train also failed to stop at another station.

Witnesses (commuters) on this station reported that Newson seemed to be in some sort of trance – sitting upright and looking straight ahead. It was as if he had no idea he was passing through a scheduled stop.

Investigators ended up having to close the case only knowing what had happened but not WHY it had happened.

If you have any thoughts or opinions on the Moorgate train disaster please leave them in the comment section below.

13 comments on “The Moorgate Train Disaster

  1. Hi, very interesting niche. I love shows like mysteries at the museum etc. I really found your site very interesting and would love to take my time reading all your articles etc. Very interesting. I use to travel in the UK from Windsor to Waterloo station and then the underground to Tottenham court for a few years, so it was very interesting to read about “The Moore Gate Train Disaster”. Thanks for presenting your website.

  2. I remember it well, I was seventeen and working in The City, I very nearly took an office job working in Morgate, in January that year, that would have meant me taking the tube train to Morgate station at that time!

  3. Very interesting article. I love this kind of stuff and your website is great. As to why this disaster happened, it’s very curious indeed. You say the driver had appeared to be in some kind of a trance before, so I wonder if he was under the influence of an evil spirit? That would be the paranormal explanation. Of course appearing to be in a trance could also be some type of epileptic seizure. I’ve witnessed these before in my own son, it’s called a petit mal seizure. People can develop these at any point in their life.

    1. There have been a few paranormal explanations thrown out there Carol but it is a strange one! I have heard of petit mal seizure but I didn’t realize it was that common!

  4. Anything from the driver being an undiagnosed diabetic, symptoms of early onset dementias or any of multiple ailments that sadly, in moments of grim synchroincity, lead to

    1. The comment section seems to have cut off the end of your comment…or you pressed enter too soon? Anyway, not that our research uncovered, no.

  5. Recall working at a merchant bank Inwon,t name as if you know the city area you,ll know who I mean in 1981. I well remember the incident in 1975 and how horrific conditions were for the rescuers and poor emergency services who had the grislybyask Of removingthe bodies of victims. I used to take breaks whilst on patrolof the building( worked security there two years) about 2am and would mess around on the dart board or snooker table located just below the arrivals platform. Always amazed me that at that time of morning I could quite clearly hear the sound of women’s high heels clicking on the tiled floors. Part of the patrol area also brought me outside just adjacent to the station entrance where I could make out the sound of many voices. This went on for months and I Didn,t think anything was unusual about it till one morning they had a real in in the newsagents inside the entrance as youths stole cigarettes. I reported it as I saw the two lads whilst on my five am patrol and called the police. The key holder was called out as the police tried to chase the thieves, but lost them in one of the many tunnels under Moorgate station. As the police were taking my statement with the key holder present I asked him why there seemed to be people in the station at such esrly hours thinking maybe they were cleaners. “No. There,s no cleaners inside till 6am. You,ve likely heard the ghosts of the victims that died back in February, 1975.” He told me with a straight face with a detective sergeant taking my statement. By the way this did NOT stop me hearing the footsteps or voices will my company lost the contract in 1983 and I was moved to an even spookier place just a few blocks away the Barbican Centre. Incidentally all that area of London was devastated by the Nazi Luftwaffe in 1940 during the Battle of Britain.

  6. Now 74 I,ve had a number of unexplained mysteries happen starting in Okinawa in 1964 while in the USAF as a Air/security policeman, a close call in Vietnam, three incidents in what was then West Germany a few in my native USA and many more mostly working night security all over London. How do I cope? I keep an open mind and nightmares don,t normally last too long. I realise that truth really IS stranger than fiction! The Moorgate disaster is just another one!

    1. Hey Byron!

      Thanks so much for taking the time to leave this with us – very interesting stuff! Our readers, like ourselves, will love reading it. 🙂

  7. I’m from Perth, Australia. I was gifted a European tour and at the finish of it I decided to stay and work in London, where I had worked a couple of years earlier.
    I had a terrible dread came over me that I had to leave London. I somehow knew that it wouldn’t do to just move somewhere else: I had to leave and leave then.
    I was chagrined, because I knew jobs were scarce back in Perth. And I had secured a good position.
    Nevertheless, feeling very daft, I booked my return flight. I was so

    terrified of missing my flight, I stayed up all night, to be sure not to miss my lift.
    On the flight home, I still felt it was crazy to do this, yet I knew with absolute certainty, that if I didn’t leave London, something terrible would happen to me.
    When I walked out of the airport, I saw a newspaper headline, about the crash: I went on that train every day.

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