Posts Tagged ‘derailment’

Dramatic derailment in Switzerland

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

accident_police_photo

The derailed carriages seen from the loco. Photo Graubünden Police.

News of a serious railway accident in Switzerland is always an extraordinary event – Swiss railways are amongst the safest in the world.

The accident occurred at approximately 12:45 on Wednesday 13 August. A train was travelling from St. Moritz to Chur on the Albula section of the Rhaetian Railway between Tiefencastel and Solis. The leading carriage just behind the locomotive was hit by a landslide. The carriage plunged down a ravine and fortunately snagged on some trees before it could gather enough momentum to crash through the forest.

The second coach ended up hanging over the brink of the embankment. The passengers were asked to walk to the back of the coach to keep it stable. The third coach also derailed, but remained upright on the tracks. The rear bogie of the locomotive was also apparently derailed, but the driver promptly brought the engine to a halt and it remained upright on the tracks.

The derailment location near Tiefencastel, Switzerland. Google Maps.

Some two inches of rain fell on Wednesday morning downhill – equivalent to the normal rainfall in the whole of August. The earth and soil, weakened by the rain poured down onto a 15m section of track. In some places the debris piled up 3m high.

Fortunately, there were no casualties – 5 passengers were seriously injured, 6 less so. None are in danger. Those unable to walk were taken to hospital from the scene by helicopter. Some 200 passengers were guided through a tunnel by members of staff and then taken by cars to Tiefencastel station from where they continued their journey by coach.

The Albula section of the Rhaetian Railway is expected to remain closed for two days while the landside is cleared and the hillside secured.

Photos:

Background:

Videos of journeys on the RB

Viareggio train explosion…

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Were PKP Cargo responsible for the tank wagon?

viareggio_train_explosion

Fire rages after two railway gas tankers exploded in Viareggio, Italy
Photo rabendeviaregia, Wikipedia Commons

(Click photo to see original and for details of licensing.)

16 people have been killed and some 50 were injured last night in the Italian coastal resort of Viareggio after a goods train consisting of 14 LPG tank wagons derailed. The local fire brigade said that the gas spilt from the wagons had reached neighbouring houses before it exploded. The ensuing fireball engulfed people, vehicles and buildings like something out of a horror film. Several victims survived the blasts but were killed when their houses collapsed on top of them.

The train was travelling through Viareggio on its way from the port of La Spezia to Pisa. The driver of the train, who was only slightly injured, reported feeling a jolt some 200 metres after his engine had passed the Viareggio Station. Shortly afterwards, 5 wagons at the rear of the train derailed, some fell on their sides and the LPG started to leak out. There then appear to have been at least two major explosions.

Accident investigators will be concentrating on the condition of the wagons and the track at the point where the accident occured. There seems to be some confusion as to who was responsible for operating and maintaining the wagon that jumped the rails. The Times reported yesterday that the derailed wagons were registered to PKP Cargo and Deutsche Bahn, while The Independent reported that the lead derailed wagon – which suffered a buckled or broken axle – was owned by the US company, GATX Corp.

Stewarton derailment

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Some questions that should be asked

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Derailed wagon and collapsed bridge near Stewarton, Ayrshire. Still from BBC video

(Click on picture to view video on BBC ‘News Channel’)

A massive oil tanker train fire, with flames shooting 50ft into the air and dark smoke obscuring the sky, greeted residents on Tuesday morning in Stewarton, Ayrshire. The accident scene, more reminiscent of railway disasters in the Ukraine or Byellorussia, occurred near a compound used by contractors who are reinstating a second track along a 5½ mile portion of the Barrhead to Kilmarnock line which was singled in the 1970s.

A DB Schenker train consisting of 10 BP rail wagons carrying heating oil and diesel from the Grangemouth refinery to the Scottish Fuels terminal in Kilmarnock caught fire today at 06.25 when the rear section became separated from the rest of the train. Six of the 10 wagons were derailed and one was alight. Four remained on the rails still attached to the locomotive. There were no casualties.

The site of the derailment coincides with an underbridge that was due to be demolished this weekend. It is very close to the start of a 5.5 mile ‘dynamic loop’ (one that allows two trains to pass without stopping) that is being installed between Stewarton and Lugton. The £20 million contract was awarded by Network Rail to Jarvis. Track works commenced in September 2008 with works on the stations due to start early in 2009. Work is scheduled to be completed by October 2009 for a half-hourly Kilmarnock – Glasgow service to start at the December timetable change.

There are as yet no official conjectures as to the cause of the accident. BTWT has some questions. Somehow we think that quite a few of these may be skipped over by the accident’s investigators:

  • Was the collapse of the underbridge the cause of the derailment or merely a consequence of it?
  • Was the underbridge weakened by any work carried out by the contractors?
  • Has an independent assessment been made as to whether railway engineering structures designed and built in the 19th C. (the collapsed bridge was built in 1870) have a sufficient margin of safety when passed over at speed by trains with 25 ton axle load trains? (In 1948 the maximum weight per axle was seventeen and a half tons on most routes and goods trains ran more slowly than contemporary ‘freight’ trains.)
  • Is today’s fragmented railway less safe than the British Railways’ vertically integrated railway?
  • Was the traditional experience based safety culture inherently safer than the current paper-based ‘box ticking’ safety regime which has replaced it?

Comments, from BTWT readers, as always very welcome.

More pictures and articles:

The Scotsman – Derailed train catches fire

The Scotsman – freight train derailment probed

scot-rail – Barrhead-Kilmarnock enhancement

61 ICE-3 sets withdrawn for axle checks

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Third generation German high speed train ICE-3. Photo Wikipedia Commons

Deutsche Bahn AG withdrew 61 of its ICE-3 trainsets from service on Friday, 11 July for safety checks following a derailment on Wednesday in Cologne. 78 services were cancelled over the weekend while ultrasound tests were carried out on the axles. The inspections were announced after a broken axle caused one of the trains to derail None of the 250 passengers aboard the train were hurt. In 1998, an ICE-1 trainset at Eschede shed a wheel rim. In the ensuing derailment 101 people were killed and 88 injured. The Eschede accident was the world’s worst ever high speed railway disaster.

“We are playing it safe with the checks,” said Karl-Friedrich Rausch, DB board member responsible for passenger services. “The safety of our passengers is the highest priority.” Routes from Cologne to Frankfurt, Munich and Stuttgart, and from Frankfurt to Paris, are likely to be worst affected by cancelations. The situation should improve after the weekend as the trains are returned to service.

The Cologne prosecutors’ office is investigating the accident to determine whether the axle was damaged during the train’s high-speed journey from Frankfurt airport to Cologne. A passengers had reported hearing unusual noises to the guard, and said he was told, “Don’t worry. That doesn’t mean anything.”

The ICE 3, designed by Siemens and built by Siemens and Bombadier, is the flagship of Deutsche Bundesbahn InterCityExpress operations. There are some radical changes compared to previous ICE trainsets. Top speed is 206 mph (330 km/h) and the train can can climb inclines as steep as 4 %. Power is provided by motors driving 16 powered axles throughout the whole train, similarly to the French Alstom built AGV. The ICE 3 is an eight-car `half train’ which can operate independently or be coupled to another unit.

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