When things start going badly wrong, they go even worse wrong. And this was why I decided to find my way to yet another place in the middle of nowhere in the former municipality of Kalvola in the Tavastia Proper region.
Back in one spring morning in 1957, the night train from Lapland to Helsinki was around one and a half hours late. Because of the delay it was supposed to pass an express train heading in the opposite direction at the station of Kuurila. In the very last minute the passage was changed to the station of Iittala further South, and the night train was cleared forward from Kuurila. The information didn’t reach the express train on time, so it was cleared forward from Iittala.
As they couldn’t reach the trains after the clearances, the operators knew, that an accident was bound to happen and called the local hospitals even before the crash to raise the alarm. And at around 9.45 am that morning the inevitable happened. The heavy, old steam locomotive of the night train split the light, modern aluminium locomotive of the express train in two. In addition to the locomotive, the first cars of the express train were completely destroyed. The first cars of the night train were pushed under the locomotive.
All in all 26 people died and almost 60 were injured. This became and still remains the most deadly railroad accident during peace time in Finland. That’s why a memorial was erected on the site.
It’s a simple stone with a few metal plaques. Someone still keeps the flowers fresh despite all the years.
The sign reads as follows:
‘The reason for the accident was the lack of communication in traffic management on a single track railroad. The largest peace time accident. 26 people were killed and 59 injured. The memorial has been erected to commemorate the victims and the accident site.’
The steam locomotive was later repaired and put back to service. It was later preserved and for a short while called the Killer Locomotive. The name was later dropped.
But spoiler alert: we will meet the locomotive a bit later in this blog.