Almost 63 years after a horrific Tube train accident killed 12 people, an appeal has been made to find relatives of the victims before a plaque is unveiled in their memory.

On April 8 1953, a Central line train travelling towards Epping slammed into the back of another stationary vehicle in the tunnel between Stratford and Leyton station.

As well as the deaths, 46 people were injured or suffered from shock – it was the worst accident on the Tube network until 1975, when 43 people on a southbound Northern City Line train were killed when it crashed into a tunnel end at Moorgate station.

Now, Transport for London (TfL) is preparing to commemorate the victims of the 1953 accident and hopes to find living relatives ahead of the plaque unveiling on the 63rd anniversary.

Many of the 800 to 1,000 people on the two trains were likely travelling home from work when the crash happened at 6.56pm, and an official Ministry of Transport crash report shows a number of passengers lived in areas such as Epping Forest or Woodford Green.

Fatefully, a signal light in the tunnel had been previously damaged by a heavy hook from a passing train.

Drivers were told to follow a ‘stop and proceed’ rule, stopping regularly and continuing with extreme caution at normally less than 10mph.

As the train – known as number 59 – descended into the pitch-black tunnel, little did the driver know that another – number 71 – was sat unmoving halfway down.

Not expecting to find a blockage, the driver of train 59 coasted down the steep slope of the tunnel and failed to apply the brakes before it was too late, colliding heavily with the back of train 71.

The official report says: “The damage to the two trains was extensive and greatly exceeded that ever experienced in any previous accident to tube stock.

“The leading driving car of train 59 was wrecked.”

The damage was horrific, with the second carriage of train 59 ‘telescoping’ into the first by about six feet and the floor buckling beneath passengers.

After the crash a rescue operation ran all night, with nurses from hospitals such as Whipps Cross attending and sometimes staying with trapped passengers in the tunnel for many hours.

“Rescue work,” says the report, “was extremely difficult due to the extent of the damage and in the confines of the tunnel, and that done by all deserves the highest praise.”

After the dust had settled and services resumed, an investigation began into the crash.

It concluded, says council history website Newham Story, that “The cause of the accident was simply that the driver had not followed the rules.”

Although the driver claimed he had been travelling slowly and that a cloud of dust cut visibility before the crash, the inspector found the speed would have been closer to 20mph and that memories of the dust were likely an effect of concussion.

Despite the conclusion of driver failure, safety measures were shocking compared to today’s strict standards.

According to Geoffrey Kichenside in his book Great Train Disasters, “in those days drivers on London Transport lines were not given a practical test of driving at 'caution', and nor did the rules impose a maximum speed.

“Actual speed for 'caution' was left to the driver's discretion, bearing in mind the pertaining conditions.”

The official report also points out that Tube trains had no speedometers, with available meters lacking the required accuracy.

A number of factors contributed to the crash, ultimately costing the lives of 12 people and affecting at least 46 others.

Now, they will be officially commemorated with the new plaque.

If you are, or know someone who is a relative of one of the victims, phone Catherine Westoby at TfL on 0203 054 8626 ahead of the unveiling on April 8.