|Not far down this place, the biggest rail accident in history happened: On 12 December 1917 approximately 1000 troops were returning home on leave from the fighting in North East Italy. They were being conveyed in two trains from Turin to Lyon. Due to the prevailing conditions, there was a shortage of locomotives. Indeed, only one was available. The decision was made to operate the two trains as one, coupling them together and putting them in the charge of a single 4-6-0 engine. The train now consisted of nineteen coaches. Of these, the first three had brakes (automatic air brakes controlled from the engine), the remaining coaches and ammunition cars were either unbraked or had hand brakes operated by brakesmen. The weight of the train vastly exceeded what the engine was permitted to haul. The driver would have known, that the task his engine was expected to undertake, was dangerous. The driver protested this position, refusing to drive the train. However, these were not normal times. This was war and although a civilian, he was threatened with military discipline by the army if he refused to cooperate. As the troop train began the descent on gradients as steep as 1 in 33, the driver applied the brakes. It steadily gathered speed as it continued its descent. The brakes became overheated and glowed white causing fires to break out under the coaches. The train continued like this for some 4 miles (6 km) until at an estimated 75 mph (120 km/h) the first coach became derailed. The rest of the train piled-up against it, the wooden coaches immediately catching fire. They burned with such intensity that of the 800 or so who died, only 425 bodies could be identified. The crew of the 4-6-0 engine survived, as their engine derailed in the upcoming station of Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne. Extract from http://danger-ahead.railfan.net .