Two Swiss trains collide, 26 injured, driver found dead

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 July, 2013, 2:29pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 30 July, 2013, 5:53pm


The Swiss authorities on Tuesday were investigating a head-on train collision in the west of the country that killed one of the drivers and injured 26 other people.

The accident on a rail network regarded as one of the world’s most reliable came as Spain was mourning the 79 victims of one of Europe’s worst train disasters in recent years.

Two trains collided head-on late on Monday just outside the station at Granges-pres-Marnand, a small town between the Geneva and Neuchatel lakes in Switzerland’s French-speaking region.

Daniel Antonez, a resident of nearby Moudon, said he heard the impact.

“It’s one I often take. I’m sure I know some people who were on the train,” he said.

Rescuers retrieved the body of a driver from one of the crumpled engines early on Tuesday and investigators were surveying the crash site.

Flanked by cornfields, the two small trains were still on the track on Tuesday, both engines locked into each other and lifted slightly off the ground as workers used beams to prepare to remove the wreckage.

“The management and employees of the CFF are shocked by the death of their colleague,” the company said in a statement, offering its condolences to the man’s family.

Newspapers splashed photos of the wreckage across their front pages, claiming that the early departure of one of the trains may be to blame.

The police made no comment on the possible cause of the crash but CFF boss Andreas Meyer was due to brief the press later on Tuesday.

“Work is continuing to clear the line completely. Technical investigations will continue over coming days,” police said in a statement.

A total of 46 passengers had been on board, all of them Swiss, police said.

Swiss media quoted Guy Delpedro, the mayor of the small town of 1,200 inhabitants, as saying that the low speed of the trains explained why more people had not died.

One train had been bound for Lausanne, 38 kilometres to the south, while the other was travelling north from the same city.

A CFF spokeswoman said that the two trains should have crossed at the station, thanks to a track system that allows them to pass one another.

The crash occurred shortly before 5pm GMT and rescuers worked into the night under arc lamps, using special equipment to cut through the wreckage and the reach the missing driver.

They retrieved his body at 1.30am on Tuesday but it was not clear whether he had died on impact.

In total, 26 people were taken to five separate hospitals while those with more minor injuries were treated on site by the emergency services and volunteer medics.

The collision came in the wake of the July 24 tragedy in Santiago de Compostela, when a speeding train flew off the rails, killing 79 people. A crash in suburban Paris a week earlier killed seven.

“It makes your blood run cold,” Daniel Antonez said, referring to the string of rail accidents in Europe.

Two regional trains collided at Neuhausen-am-Rheinfall in northern Switzerland in January, resulting in 25 people suffering light injuries.

In 2003, 45 people were injured in a train crash in Zurich.