Routine safety checks carried out last week on the signalling system on the route where two German trains collided head on revealed no “technical problems,” says a German rail spokesperson.
BAD AIBLING, GERMANY (FEBRUARY 9, 2016) (REUTERS) – The signalling system on the route where a German train crash took place was checked recently for technical problems, said a German rail spokesperson on Tuesday (February 9) at a press conference.
Nine people were killed and at least 81 injured when two passenger trains collided head-on at high speed in isolated countryside in southern Bavaria.
“It is a cooperation with transport companies that operate this route, in this case Meridian or Bavarian Oberlandbahn, and it’s a cooperation that’s tracked and recorded. Merdian has been driving for years, and up to now there were never problems. We also told Minister Dobrindt that the PZB 90 and signal box was routinely checked last week. There were no technical problems on this route,” German rail regional manager Klaus-Dieter Josel said.
Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt previously told reporters the trains and track had been fitted with an automatic brake system that was introduced across Germany after ten people died in 2011 near Magdeburg when a train driver drove through two red signals.
He said an investigation had begun and that the priority was to find out whether the cause was a technical problem or human error.
The crash, about half way along a 6-km (four-mile) stretch between the spa town of Bad Aibling and Kolbermoor, happened at a peak commuter time of 6.48 a.m. (0548 GMT) about 60 km southeast of Munich and near the border with Austria.
Ambulances could not get to the site, which was heavily wooded with a steep hill on one side and river on the other, so helicopters airlifted casualties to nearby hospitals.
A relative of Richard Stier was one of those injured in the crash.
“The rescuers came relatively fast, yes. It took around 20 minutes. And then after that (the site) was basically isolated. They didn’t know what kind of accident they were getting, what you can now see in the television images for example. They completely didn’t realise what the scene of the accident was,” he said from a hospital in Bad Aibling.
Hundreds of emergency service workers, including mountain rescue teams, worked to save passengers at the crash site, where several derailed blue, yellow and grey train carriages lay on their side next to the track.
The trains were carrying about 150 passengers, mainly commuters, and, police said, if it had not been a holiday week, there would have been more.
State-owned German rail company Deutsche Bahn is responsible for the track which had a speed limit of 100 km per hour.