NewsS-Bahn accident near Munich: What we know - and...

S-Bahn accident near Munich: What we know – and what we don't

The S-Bahn accident south of Munich shook people far beyond the region. Again it happened on a single track. The focus now is on the question of the causes.

Schäftlarn – Two S-Bahn trains collided head-on on a single-track route in the Munich district. There is one dead and many injured.

What we know:

The course of events: On Monday afternoon at around 4:35 p.m., two S-Bahn trains collided head-on just north of the Ebenhausen-Schäftlarn station. The route is single track there. Several train parts of both trains jump off the tracks. According to a spokesman for the federal police, the S-Bahn from Munich towards Wolfratshausen was about ten minutes late. Deutsche Bahn was initially unable to comment on this. Residents reported that an S-Bahn had been in the station for a comparatively long time. Within a very short time, a large-scale operation by the police, fire brigade and rescue services started – in the end around 800 helpers were involved.

The victims: A 24-year-old man dies in the rubble. He had taken a seat in the front part of the train bound for Munich. 18 people are injured, six of them seriously. The two train drivers are among the seriously injured. In addition, 25 people are being treated on an outpatient basis. In total, there were about 95 people on the trains. Some were able to free themselves from the wagons, while others were helped out by the rescuers.

The safety technology: According to information from railway circles, the accident route on the Munich S-Bahn is equipped with an electronic safety device. The technology monitors train traffic and can automatically brake trains in an emergency, according to railway circles. According to information from the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”, the single-track line had a point-like train control (PZB) safety system. The system struck in the accident situation and braked at least one train.

The investigations: The first witnesses have already been heard. The tachographs of both railcars have been secured. The scene of the accident south of Munich was photographed from the air with drones – for the investigation, but also to prepare for the rescue. Reviewers should support the work.

What we don’t know:

The cause of the accident: The central question is: Was it a technical error – or the human factor? According to Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann (CSU), investigators are currently checking whether the head-on collision between two S-Bahn trains in Schäftlarn was caused by human error. According to the current status, there are no indications that it is a matter of technical failure. The investigation would focus primarily on whether there was human error. There is no confirmation from the investigators for information from the “Bild” newspaper that a red signal may have been run over. The public prosecutor said that the investigation would be open-ended.

The rescue: On the day after the accident, investigations are still being carried out at the scene of the accident, and many emergency services are on site again. The railway line remained closed, as did the federal road that passes just below the accident site. Last but not least, the statics of the railway embankment must be checked. Not before Wednesday, but maybe not until Thursday, the rescue of the trains could begin, the police said. Due to the location on a steep embankment, the work is likely to be difficult. Deutsche Bahn initially gave no forecast as to when the route could be released again. Only after the scene of the accident has been cleared can DB begin the clean-up and repair work. Damage to the infrastructure can only be finally assessed and repaired when the trains have been transported away.

Possible parallels to other disasters : Speculative. But the accident brings back memories of Bad Aibling. In 2016, twelve people died and 89 were injured when two trains collided on a single-track line. A dispatcher had played with the cell phone and set false signals. He was convicted of involuntary manslaughter. On August 6th last year, not far from the current accident site, there was already a near-collision between two S-Bahn trains. Federal police spokesman Wolfgang Hauner sees no parallels. At that time, people were reported on the track. Both engine drivers were then instructed to drive slowly. One of the two would also have had to wait. However, he misunderstood and drove off. Because visibility was good on a straight line and both trains were moving slowly, they were able to brake in time. dpa

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