"'Castle’ class 7010 ‘Avondale Castle’ with an up parcels train on Goring Troughs at Easter 1962. Two fishtail distant signals are in view." Photo: Mike Peart.

The Board of Trade Chief Inspector of Railways, Captain Henry Tyler presented his annual report for the previous year in 1874. During 1873 the railways of Great Britain and Ireland had seen 455 million passenger journeys; 247 accidents had been investigated, these including incidents where 160 passengers had been killed and 1,750 injured. The death toll for railway servants and others such as trespassers on the railway was much higher at 1,212. This was concerning, and in 1874 a Royal Commission chaired by the 3rd Duke of Buckingham and Chandos (who was also Chairman of the London & North Western Railway) was appointed to look into the safe working of railways. This resulted in 1876 in the production of a Standard Rule Book to be used by all railway companies. It included the introduction of fishtail arms for distant signals and “Rule 55” requiring the driver to sound the whistle and the guard or fireman of a train detained at a danger signal to go to the signal box immediately in poor weather, or within minutes if clearer to remind the signalman of their presence. Captain Tyler had already - and repeatedly - given his list of ten recommendations for improving railway safety:

  1. The judicious selection, training and supervision of officers and servants, and the preservation of good discipline.

  2. Ensuring maintenance of the permanent way in high condition.

  3. Good design, construction and material of axles.

  4. The application of tyre fastenings which will prevent the tyres from flying off the wheels in the event of fracture.

  5. Improved coupling of vehicles and trains.

  6. Installation of signal and point arrangements, with modern improvements, including concentration and interlocking of the signal and point levers, and locking bolts and locking bars for facing points.

  7. Installing safety points to goods or siding connections with passenger lines.

  8. Increased use of the telegraph, with block telegraph systems for securing intervals of space in place of illusory intervals of time only between trains.

  9. Creating sufficient siding accommodation for the collection, distribution and working of goods traffic so that goods trains may be shunted and marshalled independently and kept out of the way of passenger trains so that they may not encumber and endanger the traffic on the main lines.

  10. Increasing the use of continuous brakes to be worked by the engine drivers as well as the guards as the occasion may require.