ignored regulations that might have helped to prevent the tragedy.
However, as Neil Oliver explores in this one-off documentary marking the centenary of the disaster, blaminging just two signalmen was simplistic. Today, there would be an enquiry looking in depth at the chain of events that led up to the accident. Such an enquiry would highlight the dangers of wooden carriages, out of date even in 1915, which smashed apart on impact and then caught fire as gas from the lighting system ignited. It would question the working practices of the Caledonian Railway. It might have highlighted the way the line was congested and there was pressure to keep express services running punctually.
None of these issues were raised with any urgency at the time, and Oliver suggests that government and railway officials, and even the signalmen, had good reasons not to look too closely at what had gone wrong. Instead, those who paid the steepest price were the passengers, including children and men of the Royal Scots who had been heading to Gallipoli. As contemporary accounts make clear, many of these victims died in horrific circumstances, trapped in burning wreckage with no hope of escape or rescue. Jonathan Wright
The Quintinshill rail disaster claimed the lives of at least 226 people