On October 22, 1895, the express train from Granville to Paris was running late. Hoping to arrive on time, the driver increased the speed of the steam locomotive, which was carrying 131 passengers. As it entered the Montparnasse terminal, the train was traveling approximately 25 to 37 miles per hour.
The air brake either failed or was applied too late, and the conductor was too preoccupied with paperwork to throw the hand brake in time. The train crashed through the buffers at the end of the track, crossed the 100-foot concourse and burst through the wall of the station, tumbling onto the street below.