Nothing that train crews and Swiss chocolate couldn't fix: Lucerne’s rail station reopened after an unprecedented closure, lasting four and a half days, to clear up after a train accident. As services resumed, the first train left the city at 4:22 am on Monday.
The derailment of a Eurocity train on Wednesday afternoon had brought operations to a standstill at the nation’s sixth-busiest rail hub. Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) said the accident caused minor injuries for six of the 160 passengers traveling from Milan to Basel. The passengers were evacuated with three Italians, two Swiss and a Macedonian treated at a hospital.
On Monday morning, SBB tweeted a picture of a train with its headlights on as “proof” that maintenance crews had restored the power supply to the train station. The cause of the accident remains under investigation, but officials say they found no “irregularities” in the rail vehicles, infrastructure and track systems.
Several carriages of the Eurocity 158 jumped the tracks near Lucerne station, causing one to overturn on its side and knock down a power pylon. The accident caused major travel disruptions in the area, with commuters and other travelers opting for cars and buses that clogged the roadways. More than 20 buses from six companies were used as backup.
Hearts, minds and sweets
“Rail traffic is running normally,” SBB said of the Lucerne station, which typically handles more than 90,000 rail passengers a day. “Some trains are a few minutes late. Some track changes.”
More broadly, the centrally located station – which boasts a large shopping centre open year-round – ties with Geneva for the third-most users, 163,000 a day, behind Zurich and Bern (439,000 and 269,000 respectively).
The station had to be closed over four and a half days to carry out what SBB called “extensive repair work” in the wake of millions of francs in damage to the train carriages and rail infrastructure. Repair crews re-installed 400 metres of track, moved 200 tonnes of gravel and made other replacements and fixes.
Railway officials also sought to heal any injured feelings, posting images of hearts cupped in hands and free gift bags containing heart-shaped chocolates handed to travelers in the Lucerne station.
“Thank you for your patience after the derailment in #Luzern rail station,” SBB tweeted. “The trains run again starting today. Have a good day, and have a good trip.”