Gare de Montparnasse

The Montparnasse derailment occurred on 22 October 1895 after theGranville–Paris Express overran the buffer stop at its Gare Montparnasse terminus. With the train several minutes late and the driver trying to make up for lost time, it entered the station too fast and the train Westinghouse air brake failed. After running through the buffer stop, the train crossed the station concourse and crashed through the station wall before falling 10 metres (33 feet) onto the Place de Rennes below, where it stood on its nose. A woman in the street below was killed by falling masonry. The driver was fined 50 francs and one of the guards 25 francs.The train was outside the station in this position for several days and a number of photographs were taken. At least one photograph is out of copyright and is used as the cover page of a book by John Taylor and on the front cover of Mr. Big’s album, Lean into It.

On 22 October 1895 the Granville to Paris express was composed of steam locomotive No. 721 hauling two baggage vans, a post van, six passenger carriages and a baggage van. The train had left Granville on time at 8:45 am, but was several minutes late as it approached its Paris Montparnasse terminus with 131 passengers on board. Trying to make up lost time the train entered the station too fast, at a speed of 40–60 kilometres per hour (25–37 mph), and theWestinghouse air brake failed. Without sufficient braking the momentum of the train carried it slowly into the buffers, and the locomotive crossed the almost 30-metre (100 ft) wide station concourse, crashing through a 60-centimetre (2 ft) thick wall, before falling onto the Place de Rennes 10 metres (33 ft) below, where it stood on its nose. A woman in the street below was killed by falling masonry; and two passengers, the fireman, two guards and a passerby in the street sustained injuries. The woman, Marie-Augustine Aguilard by name, had been standing in for her husband, a newspaper vendor, while he went to collect the evening papers. The railway company paid for her funeral and provided a pension to care for their two children.

The locomotive driver was fined 50 francs for approaching the station too fast. One of the guards was fined 25 francs as he had been preoccupied with paperwork and failed to apply the handbrake. The passenger carriages were undamaged and removed easily. It took forty-eight hours before the legal process and investigation allowed the railway to start removing the locomotive and tender. An attempt was made to move the locomotive with fourteen horses, but this failed. A 250 tonne winch with ten men first lowered the locomotive to the ground and then lifted the tender back in to the station. When the locomotive reached the railway workshops it was found to have suffered little damage. The train was outside the station for several days and a number of photographs were taken, such as those attributed to Studio Lévy and Sons, L. Mercier, and Henri Roger-Viollet. The Lévy and Sons photograph is out of copyright and is used as the cover page in the book An Introduction to Error Analysis by John Taylor. The picture is also featured on the front cover of American hard rock band Mr. Big’s 1991 album, Lean into It. It also appears as a dream in the novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret and its film adaptation, Hugo. It is referenced in the television series Thomas and Friends in “A Better View For Gordon” and depicted in the comic book The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec.

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