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Rail network collapse was avoidable

An overloading of the network caused the network collapse


Swiss Federal Railways says last week’s complete collapse of its rail network could have been avoided if action had been taken earlier.

At a news conference on Friday the company also said the reason for the power failure was not a short circuit as had been thought, but an overloading of the line linking the southern canton of Ticino with the rest of the country.

The investigation, which is still continuing, had shown that a breakdown on one line had had a "domino effect" on the entire rail network, causing it to collapse.

The four-hour stoppage on June 22 affected 200,000 passengers and was unprecedented in the company’s history.

The Federal Railways said the north-south line became overloaded when two other lines on that stretch were deactivated to allow work to be carried out on them.

Extra current

If extra current had been supplied to the network at the time when these two lines were taken out of action the breakdown would not have occurred, said the Federal Railways’ head of infrastructure, Hansjörg Hess.

The power failure could have been limited to the transalpine line if some trains had been stopped, he said.

The Federal Railways said lessons had already been drawn from the incident: the works, which were being carried out on two of the three transalpine lines, had been suspended and staff training was being enhanced. In addition, sales of electricity to third parties had been stopped, allowing extra reserves to be built up.

The company said it estimated the total cost of the power cut to come to SFr3 million ($2.33 million). Around 10,000 passengers have accepted compensation in the form of rail vouchers.

The final report into the incident is expected to be complete by the end of August.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

On June 22 the entire Swiss Federal Railways network was paralysed for close to four hours.

Around 200,000 passengers were stuck in trains or in stations.

The Railways initially blamed a short circuit.

Further investigation showed that a network overload had caused the collapse.

The final report into the incident is expected at the end of August.

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