On this day in 1975, at 8.45, a packed train entered Moorgate station on what was then the Northern Line (Highbury Branch) and, instead of slowing down, accelerated into the sand drag at the end of the platform, through the buffers and into the wall at the end of the tunnel. Forty three people lost their lives. Nobody really knows why. There was speculation that the driver may have committed suicide. I remember seeing his picture in the papers for months afterwards.
I was thinking about that this yesterday morning when I stood on Palmers Green train platform. Some of those 43 dead may have stood there 37 years earlier. This line is now operated by First Capital Connect. It's called something different but it serves the same purpose - to get office workers from the suburbs of north London and Hertfordshire into the City of London.
I was thinking about it again last night while watching the first episode of The Tube, the new BBC series about how the underground works. My youngest was enthralled by this programme, by the steady thrum of the service, the seen-it-all look in the eyes of the staff and the drunken selfishness of a small minority of passengers. I've seen films about the Tube before but I'm always happy to watch a new one.
My reaction is always the same. Considering four million people get on the Tube every day and considering these metal bullets are being fired down these tunnels with such remorseless regularity and taking into account that the one thing we know is that the unforeseen does happen, it really is a miracle that these tragedies don't occur more often.