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Railway security Increase in train drivers missing red lights

Rail tracks, signals, overhead lines, switches and a passenger train

Rail tracks, signals, overhead lines, switches and a passenger train at Zurich main station

(© Keystone / Christian Beutler)

Train drivers on average ran through almost one red light a day, according to statistics quoted in SonntagsZeitung. That’s a new record, the newspaper says.

In 2018, train drivers missed red lights or other signals 363 times, according to Federal Office of Transportexternal link statistics. In comparison, the number amounted to 224 in 2010, the first year these kind of statistics were published.

In all, 108 people have been injured as a result of lights and signals incidents since 2010, 15 of them seriously. In 2013, one person died in a head-on collision with another train in Granges-Marnand, after a train driver missed a signal.

+ Train driver found guilty of negligence in 2013 crash

Damage caused over the past nine years is estimated at CHF56 million ($57.5 million).

The most common cause of running red lights and other signals is driver inattention, the newspaper reportsexternal link. “There is more pressure on train drivers at work,” the president of the Swiss Association of Locomotive Driversexternal link, Hubert Giger, said. “There are more signals, speeds are higher, accelerations are larger.”

According to the Swiss Federal Railways, external linknew drivers are particularly at risk. It now offers refresher courses and experts to accompany drivers on their routes. This coming year already shows fewer incidents than last year, the Federal Railways says.

Safety issues

The statistics come as the Federal Railways have been put under pressure to improve safety on their trains, after the recent death of a Swiss Federal Railways conductor due to a defective door control system.

On Friday, the government ordered the railways to ensure that doors function safely. In addition, it must carry out a comprehensive inspection. It has emerged that there have been other incidents involving doors. The Federal Railways has pledged to increase door safety after expressing surprise at how many faulty doors have been found. It insists however rail transport remains the safest way to travel in Switzerland.


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