Investigation reveals causes of Bettembourg fatal train crash

train crash

An investigation into the train crash that killed a driver in Bettembourg in February has revealed that a failing security system and human error contributed to the accident.

A judicial expert has analysed black boxes taken from the passenger and freight trains, which crashed between Bettembourg and Dudelange on February 14.

Luxembourg’s public prosecutor has now confirmed that a failing security system and human error were responsible for the incident.

The driver of the passenger train coming from Luxembourg failed to slow down at the “advanced” signal.

At the moment the driver arrived at the “main” signal, the point where he was required to stop, the train was travelling at 133km/h.

Why the driver failed to react to the signal is part of an ongoing investigation.

A so-called ‘crocodile contact’ on the tracks sends signals to the drivers warning them to slow down.

But the black box shows the train failed to receive this signal.

The driver only triggered the emergency brake after he came across the red light at the main signal, although findings suggest the signal would have been visible for a few hundred meters prior.

Because the emergency brake was initiated too late, the distance was too short to come to a halt.

At the moment of the crash, the passenger train was travelling at 85km/h.

The investigation into the exact circumstances of the accident are ongoing.

Mike Van Kauvenbergh, a spokesman for CFL, said the train company has not seen the interim report and would continue to follow the results of the investigation.

“From our side, everything was done to ensure the safety of the driving operation after the accident,” he said.

“Some things are now clearer, but new questions have surfaced. We do not want to rush the investigation.”

Syprolux and FNCTTFEL, the unions for railway workers, encouraged their members to continue carrying out their daily duties.

The unions, however, also called for an internal investigation to clear up a number of unanswered questions and argued that the European Train Control System (ETCS) remained the only effective train-security system.

They said politicians should ensure that the railway network connecting Luxembourg with its neighbouring countries be equipped with the ETCS.

The collision happened at around 8.40am on February 14 between Bettembourg in Luxembourg and Zoufftgen in France and involved a passenger train and a freight train.

A 44-year-old Luxembourgish man from Lamadelaine, who was driving the passenger train, was killed in the crash.

People gathered on the platforms of the train station in Luxembourg City with flowers and candles in tribute to him following the crash.

The freight train from France, heading towards Bettembourg, was made up of 27 empty carriages and weighed 610 tonnes.

The passenger train was travelling from Luxembourg towards France.

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