More cautious closing of train doors to be introduced

Shut tight: passengers waiting at a Swiss Federal Railways train in Bern. Keystone / Alessandro Della Valle

Swiss Federal Railways are to introduce new procedures for closing train by the end of this month, following an accident that led to the death of a train conductor in August.

This content was published on September 23, 2019 - 16:25

The change will mainly concern the granting of authorisation to set off from stations, railways spokesman Frédéric Revaz said on Monday.

Up to now, the conductor would stand on the platform, look up and down the length of the train to check all is in order, give a signal to the driver to move off – and then step into the train. Now, however, the conductor will only give the all-clear once he or she is inside.

“The safety of staff will be boosted by this,” Revaz told the Swiss news agency, Keystone-SDA. He said the measure should ensure that accidents – such as the August incident in Baden, when a conductor was killed after becoming trapped in a closing door – aren’t repeated.

Only EW IV train carriages fitted with such doors – those that caused the fatal accident – will be concerned by the new procedure; more modern trains have various other safety mechanisms, such as photo-electric beams, to prevent closure when an obstacle is present.

+ Political pressure followed the August tragedy

The accident which caused the death of the 54-year-old railman led to sharp debates and investigations both within Swiss Federal Railways and federal authorities.

Following a largescale investigation, a further 69 doors were found to have a similar defect in the mechanism that stops door closure when an object is in the way. These doors were either fixed immediately or grounded for repairs, but the 493 carriages containing the particular door model are not set to be pulled from the tracks, Revaz said.

Railways CEO Andreas Meyer, who faced pressure and criticism – and a parliamentary probe – following the accident, announced that he would be stepping down at the end of 2020 at the latest, though the company said the timing of his departure was not directly linked to the fatal accident.

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