Train driver ignored two stop warnings before deadly crash
The driver of the freight train that collided with a passenger train over the weekend, killing 10, apparently ignored two stop signals just before the accident, a media report said Tuesday.
The new detail in the investigation of the deadly crash near Hordorf, Saxony-Anhalt came from a Transport Ministry document to the parliamentary transport committee, daily Bild reported.
“The freight train passed through both the warning signal at the ‘expect to halt’ area and the subsequent main signal ‘B’ that signals to stop without observing them, and drove onto the junction plate meant for the HEX 80876 train run,” the report read.
A traffic controller in Hordorf also sent a radio signal for the 41-year-old driver to engage his emergency brake, but it remains unclear whether the train conductor reacted to the message, the paper said.
Ten people were killed and 23 people injured, many seriously, in the collision late Saturday night between a regional passenger train on the HarzElbeExpress (HEX) service and a freight train at Hordorf, on a sing-track section between Magdeburg and Halberstadt.
The tracks in the region were not outfitted with a safety system that automatically stops trains after they run through stop zones. The provision was scheduled for installation in March, Bild reported.
But the report also showed that the collision would have been much worse if the 35-year-old passenger train driver had not engaged an emergency brake that slowed his train from 98 to 66 kilometres per hour before impact.
Saxony-Anhalt state prosecutors have placed the freight train driver, who survived the accident, under investigation. He is suspected of negligently causing deaths and injuries, and endangering rail traffic, prosecutors and police said Monday in a joint statement.
Meanwhile national rail provider Deutsche Bahn’s CEO Rüdiger Grube announced to broadcaster ARD on Monday evening that all single-track stretches in the country will have train protection systems installed. The company will also review all at-risk areas in their service.
Cleanup of the accident has concluded and trains are back in service between Magdeburg and Halberstadt, police said on Monday evening.