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Train driver ignored two stop warnings before deadly crash

The Local · 1 Feb 2011, 10:04

Published: 01 Feb 2011 10:04 GMT+01:00

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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.

Story continues below…

Cleanup of the accident has concluded and trains are back in service between Magdeburg and Halberstadt, police said on Monday evening.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

10:49 February 1, 2011 by Slimtots
This is sad...lives lost due to one person's carelessness. Why would the driver not stop when he was supposed to? I'm interested in knowing the outcome of the investigation.
11:40 February 1, 2011 by William Thirteen
i also hope they honor the driver of the passenger train for his action in slowing his train which most probably saved lives.
11:42 February 1, 2011 by mehta_p
really a sad incident...

may their souls rest in peace and god gives their family members enough strength to come outta this situation...

DB must do detailed investigation and shd make the inv-report publicaly as soon as possible...

DB should now stop their monopoly and give others chance to drive passengers....z.B. service providers like meinbus
19:48 February 1, 2011 by lordkorner
neither train involved belonged to DB..
21:08 February 1, 2011 by cklb
@ Slimtots: The driver didn't stop because he wasn't at the steering wheel. Normally stuff like that should be prevented by a dead-man switch (e.g. every 30 seconds acoustic signal, if the switch then isn't pressed 10 seconds after that, engine idle. Still no reaction: emergency brake) . Can't believe the train wasn't equipped with a device like that. Sad.
03:58 February 2, 2011 by wood artist
There are many different types of "automatic" devices that could have prevented this tragedy, however, let's not lose sight of the idea that there is a man whose job it is to pay attention and drive the train in a safe and appropriate manner. For whatever reason, he made a choice to ignore those responsibilities.

Yes, automatic devices could have helped, but the first line of defense must remain the person in charge doing their job.

18:19 February 2, 2011 by cklb
unfortunately humans make mistakes. and that's exactly why safety measures should be implemented on machinery that is dangerous. always easy to blame someone afterwards, but it doesn't help the people that got minced in the incident. and it doesn't help the driver now either. i fell sorry for him as well as for the other involved people.
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