An investigation into Tuesday’s tragic train collision on the main corridor near Český Brod is increasingly revealing the strange behavior of the City Elephant train driver.
According to the Minister of Transport Karel Havlíček, the driver must press the vigilance button every ten to 20 seconds on the corridor line between Prague and Kolín. If it turns red, a signal sounds and the train stops, but may start again. And that also happened on Tuesday around half past nine in the evening. “The driver was stopped, he started again. At a speed of 60 to 70 kilometers per hour, he crashed into a postal train, which was not braked, he was still pushing it in front of him, “Havlíček told ČTK.
Server zdopravy.cz He stated that the driver had stopped at the signal, but after ten seconds he started again at a speed of 87 kilometers per hour and crashed into the postal express at 67 kilometers per hour. It is clear that the driver reacted to the Stop signal. But why the train started again at such a high speed remains unclear. In addition, the set probably did not brake just before the collision, and the driver was still in the front cab during the collision. One of the possibilities of a driver’s failure is a sudden medical event.
Fatigue, on the other hand, should not be the cause of an accident. Havlíček described the forty-year-old driver as experienced, he was not overworked according to him, he returned from vacation. This was also confirmed by Czech Railways.
iRozhlas.cz He said that a driver in the same section, which became fatal on Tuesday, prevented a train crash three years ago. At that time, he received an award from the management of Czech Railways. “We can confirm that he was a driver who, in June 2017, with his actions and attentive performance of the service, prevented a train collision in Český Brod and extensive property damage and possible damage to passengers’ health,” Czech Railways spokeswoman Gabriela Novotná wrote to the server.
This is the third train crash on the Czech railways in a week, all of which, according to the investigation so far, were caused by human error. Havlíček thinks that these are not systemic mistakes, but individual failures. It wants to strengthen staff and increase investment in security. The newly formed Safety Commission for Railways, which met on Wednesday evening, also agreed.
Driver audit and massive inspection
The Railway Authority is currently preparing an audit focusing on the work of train drivers and their conditions. He said he would call on all carriers to carry out their own analysis of track errors. The State Office of Labor Inspection will launch massive inspections of compliance with the Labor Code and especially working hours on the railway, said Labor Minister Jana Maláčová (ČSSD). Employees cannot be overloaded, she added.
According to Ivo Drahotský from the Jan Perner Faculty of Transport, the University of Pardubice, there is no supervisory body that would inspect train drivers so as to ensure their quality. He pointed out on Czech Television (ČT) that previously train drivers should have known only a few lines, today employers are “pushing” them to know the entire country.
The Board of Directors of Czech Railways on Wednesday agreed that the company will intensify inspections of the work of train drivers and will want to improve their training and coaching. The number of inspections increased by a quarter year-on-year last year, said the head of the state carrier Václav Nebeský. For single-track regional lines without electronic track security, it will prepare a system that will alert the driver to the need to report to the signalman at train crossing points and warn them of the vehicle in the opposite direction.
Busy section with high security
The CityElefant passenger train, which carried over 100 people, crashed into a standing mail train on Tuesday around 9.30 pm. The driver of the passenger train remained wedged in the cab, the only one who did not survive the collision. Eight injured people, who were taken to the Vinohrady and Thomayer hospitals in Prague and to the České Budějovice hospital after the collision, are out of danger of death. Two of them are already at home. One wounded rescuer was taken to the Central Military Hospital in Prague, and his condition requires intensive care. Other minor injuries ended up in hospitals in Kolín and Nymburk.
The trains collided on one of the busiest sections and, according to Havlíček, it is the best secured line in the Czech Republic. Rail incidents have increased in recent years. Most of them happen on national routes. The number of incidents after illegal train running is also gradually increasing, according to data from the Railway Inspectorate. According to experts, one of the reasons may be the ever-increasing density of traffic. This year, on the other hand, the number of incidents decreased year-on-year until the middle of the year, but several serious accidents occurred in the last week.
The most tragic of recent times was the clash of two trains on the regional line near Pernink in the Karlovy Vary region, in which two people died and 24 were injured. The heavily damaged RegioNova train was taken away by the railway firefighters from Pernink on a truck, it will be scrapped.