Major new record of railway accidents released as part of the part of the 'Railway Work, Life & Death' project

A MAJOR new historical record of 17,000 railway worker accidents in Britain and Ireland has been released to the public.

By Charlotte Hawes
Monday, 25th July 2022, 9:28 pm

The records provide details about accidents involving railway staff from 1900 to 1939 including who was involved, what they were doing on the railways, what happened to them and why.

It is part of the 'Railway Work, Life & Death' project, a collaboration between the University of Portsmouth, the National Railway Museum, and the Modern Records Centre at the University of Warwick.

Dr Mike Esbester, senior lecturer in history at the University of Portsmouth and one of the project leads, said: ‘Having these records are important as it helps us understand the human impacts events like these have on ordinary people’s lives.

A 1930s staged staff safety image which shows the type of accident that staff had on the railways.

‘It enables us to see these people not as a statistic but as individuals.

‘Uncovering the untold stories of these everyday workers helps us relate to our ancestors.’

Volunteer teams from the project transcribed records of around 17,000 reports produced by the state-appointed Railway Inspectorate between 1900 and 1939, detailing investigations into railway worker accidents.

The volunteers have extracted the details found in the documents, such as names, ages, roles, companies, and details of the accident – and entered them into the database.

This is the latest dataset released by the project, which started in 2016.

Since then, it has had over 10,000 downloads worldwide of its existing data which is around 6,500 accident cases.

The railway accident database is available to the public for free on