Germany: Head-On Collision Kills 9, Injures 90

Image courtesy of Google Maps

A head-on collision between two trains have left at least nine people dead and 18 seriously injured. The accident, which occurred at 6.48 local time near Bad Aibling, a town 60km south-east of Munich, led to the partial derailment of both trains from the single track line. The trains were operated by Bayerische Oberlandbahn.

A Press statement from Bayerische Oberlandbahn said that:

“Bayerische Oberlandbahn GmbH is deeply shocked by the serious train accident near Bad Aibling and wishes to extend its sympathies to everyone affected.”

CEO of Deutsche Bahn AG, Dr Rüdiger Grube, said:

‘We are deeply dismayed by this accident. We wish to extend our deepest sympathies to the victims and their relatives. I have already expressed my sadness to Bayerische Oberlandbahn. We will naturally support the investigating authorities in determining the cause of the accident. I wish to thank the rescue workers and all the helpers at the scene for their hard and difficult work.’

Bavaria’s Minister-President Horst Seehofer said:

“My thoughts are with the victims of this terrible disaster and with their relatives, for whom I express my deepest sympathy. This is a tragedy for our state that fills us with grief and horror.”

Fortunately it is a school holiday and so there are not thought to have been any children onboard. Both drivers of the trains and two train guards are among those killed. Emergency services were flown in by helicopter to assist with the rescue efforts. All survivors were  from the wreckage within three hours. There are calls for blood donations from the public.

The collision is believed to have taken place at low speed, but the cause is not yet known. Two of the three black boxes have been recovered and will be analysed to discover how the crash happened, though it is thought that because this section of the track was on a bend, as a single track, the drivers could not see each other until it was two late.

Philippa Oldham, Head of Transport at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said:

“It is still too early to say with any certainty exactly what happened to cause today’s tragic rail crash in Bavaria, but accident investigators will be looking at a number of factors.
“Signaling systems should normally prevent two trains on the same track travelling in different directions, and as of yet, it is not known why it didn’t.
“Accident investigators will be examining whether there were any other technical or component causes like rail breakages, train defects or damage caused by vandalism that could have contributed to the accident.
“It is crucial for us to learn from these terrible accidents as much as explain them.  As the key must be to reduce the risk of similar failures leading to disasters like this in the future.
“Rail travel is still one of the safest forms of transport. Our sympathies are with the victims and hard-working emergency services.”

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