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Rail accident Trains crashed despite latest technology

A train carriage which derailed near Rafz, canton Zurich, on Friday is removed

(Keystone)

The line where two passengers trains collided outside Zurich on Friday morning, injuring six people, was equipped with the latest automated signalling and safety infrastructure. The exact cause of the accident will not be known until next week. 

Both trains – the Rafz-Schaffhausen regional commuter train and the Zurich-Schaffhausen intercity express – had an instructor and a trainee driver at the helm. 

Cantonal police say the train driver of the intercity express sustained serious injuries and had to be extracted from the cab and airlifted to hospital. Five passengers picked up minor injuries and were taken by ambulance to hospital. 

According to the police, the side collision near the station of Rafz threw the intercity train off the track and both trains came to a halt on a bridge just outside the station. The regional train suffered only superficial damages. 

The cause of the accident is under investigation, but no announcement is expected until next week. Swiss Federal Railways is looking into whether the trainee drivers – who, it stressed, are by no means beginners – were driving when the accident occurred. 

The Swiss Transportation Safety Investigation Board has also visited the site. 

What is known, however, is that the stretch of track between Bülach and Schaffhausen was modernised just a few years ago. Federal Railways told the Swiss News Agency that the modern “ZUB” system (Zugbeeinflussing – train protection system) had been installed alongside the existing “Integra-Signum”. 

The Integra-Signum alerts the driver if the train is approaching a stop sign. If the driver doesn’t stop, the train brakes automatically. The ZUB system monitors the train’s speed between the alert and the stop sign. 

According to the Federal Railways, intercity trains between Zurich and Stuttgart will be rerouted over Winterthur until further notice. Disruptions to the line are expected to last until Saturday night.

Map of the area:

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