2006 Lathen maglev train accident

2006 Lathen maglev train accident

The 2006 Lathen maglev train accident occurred on September 22, 2006 when a Transrapid magnetic levitation (or "maglev") train collided with a maintenance vehicle near Lathen, Germany, killing 23 people. This was the first ever fatal accident on a maglev train.

The Transrapid

The Transrapid 08 was still doing trial runs, but it did carry passengers along a 31.8 kilometre (19.8 mile) test track to demonstrate the maglev technology. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/5370564.stm Deadly crash on German monorail] - BBC - Obtained September 23, 2006.] The track runs from Lathen, near where the accident occurred, to Dörpen, with a loop at each end. Speeds of up to 450 km/h (280 mph) are reached on the test track.

Maglev trains use powerful magnets to keep them just above the tracks. Currently the only Transrapid maglev in commercial operation is a Transrapid line in Shanghai, linking Pudong International Airport with the outskirts of the city.

The accident

The accident occurred on the morning of September 22, 2006 about 1 km (0.6 mile) away from Lathen on a section of elevated track at about 09:30 CEST. [http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/europe/09/22/germany.death/ 21 killed in magnetic train crash] - CNN - Obtained October 27, 2007]

There was a maintenance vehicle on the tracks to check them for debris. The Transrapid train hit the maintenance vehicle at approximately 200 km/h (125 mph), resulting in the partial derailment of the Transrapid and severe damage to both vehicles. The roof of the train was partially sliced off and wreckage was spread over a 400 metre-long section of the track. There were twenty-three fatalities and ten severe injuries. [ [http://www1.ndr.de/ndr_pages_std/0,2570,OID3129340_SPC3131186,00.html NDR Online: Ermittlungen nach schwerem Transrapid-Unfall im Emsland] - www1.ndr.de - Obtained September 23, 2006.] The passengers on the train were a combination of employees at Transrapid, workers from a nursing care company and workers from local utility company RWE. The two-man crew of the maintenance vehicle were among the survivors.

Emergency response

Firefighters used turntable ladders and aerial platforms to reach the wreckage, which was some four metres above ground level. [http://news.monstersandcritics.com/europe/article_1204030.php/23_dead_in_German_maglev_train_accident__Roundup_ '23 dead' in German maglev train accident] - monstersandcritics.com - Obtained March 4, 2007.] 150 rescue personnel attended the scene.

Immediate aftermath

Immediately after the accident, German transport minister Wolfgang Tiefensee held an emergency meeting with representatives from Siemens AG and ThyssenKrupp, the two companies jointly responsible for the Transrapid. He commented afterwards that "major safety failings" were the clear cause of the accident, and that two key questions that required answered were "Whether the Transrapid's safety measures were adequate, and whether they were applied on the test track" where the accident took place. He also promised an independent inquiry.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel left a conference in Berlin in order to attend the scene. [http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/world/archives/2006/09/24/2003328984 German maglev train crash leaves at least 23 dead] - The Taipei Times - Obtained March 4, 2007.] Wu Xiangming, head of the Shanghai maglev project, also visited the scene. [http://www.terradaily.com/reports/German_Minister_Holds_Emergency_Talks_Into_Transrapid_Train_Crash_999.html German Minister Holds Emergency Talks Into Transrapid Train Crash] - TerraDaily - Obtained March 4, 2007.]


German authorities are investigating the accident. Head of operators at the test track operator, IABG, Rudolf Schwarz said "This accident would not have been possible if all regulations were adhered to". According to IABG the crew of the maintenance vehicle, which clears the test track of debris and dirt every morning, was supposed to call the line dispatcher by radio once the work is finished. German police therefore suspect human error as the likely cause of the accident. [http://news.sky.com/skynews/article/0,,30000-13543840,00.html Magnetic Train Hit Vehicle] - Sky News - Obtained September 23, 2006.] Prosecutors have obtained and examined radio transcripts from the vehicles involved.


ee also

* Eschede train disaster - high speed train crash in Germany in 1998

External links

* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_pictures/5372818.stm Pictures of the crash scene]

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