German investigators looking into cause of passenger-freight train crack-up

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Dusseldorf, Germany
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DUSSELDORF, Germany — German officials are still looking into the cause of a collision between a freight and a passenger train Tuesday evening.

German media report that a passenger train carrying 173 people collided with a stationary freight train in Meerbusch, Germany, a town five miles northwest of the city of Düsseldorf. Photos tweeted by the Meerbusch fire department showed that Regional Express 7, operated by private English firm National Express, remained upright and only partially derailed after striking the back of the freight train, operated by German rail operator Deutsche Bahn.

Remaining freight cars at the rear of the train derailed and knocked out the overhead catenary wires, preventing emergency services from moving in to rescue the passenger train's passengers and crew until Deutsche Bahn turned off the electrical current for the line. According to Meerbuscher News, the current was not shut off until nearly two hours after the accident. Once the area was safe to enter, however, a small army of several hundred police officers, fire fighters, and ambulance service members began helping passengers and crew from the train and airlifting the severely injured to a nearby hospital. Upon finishing all rescue and clean-up tasks by early Wednesday, the Meerbusch fire department reported that 33 people were slightly injured, seven critically, and one person with severe injuries.

Authorities have not yet released a cause for the accident and are conducting an investigation as to why the freight train was stopped on the line.

Spiegel Online reports that upon the first sign that another train was on the track, the engineer made an emergency brake application, left the driver’s cab, and instructed the passengers to face backwards and brace for impact. The collision happened only seconds after. When found back in the driver’s cab, the engineer was injured and in a state of shock, but was able to leave the train unassisted and able to talk coherently with the emergency responders. The rear freight cars that were struck were supposed to be loaded with ballast. Luckily, they were empty, severely reducing the impact of the collision. — Zachary Pociask

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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