Germany mourns 23 killed in maglev-train crash

27th September 2006, Comments 0 comments

27 September 2006, LATHEN, GERMANY - Germany mourned Wednesday the deaths of 23 people in last week's crash by a magnetic-levitation (maglev) test train, as debate continued about the safety of the technology in which wagons hover on a "cushion" of magnetic force. At an ecumenical church service close to the crash site, the names of the dead, two of them US nationals and the rest Germans, were solemnly read aloud by Christian Wulff, premier of the local state, Lower Saxony. Since funerals for the 23 are be

27 September 2006

LATHEN, GERMANY - Germany mourned Wednesday the deaths of 23 people in last week's crash by a magnetic-levitation (maglev) test train, as debate continued about the safety of the technology in which wagons hover on a "cushion" of magnetic force.

At an ecumenical church service close to the crash site, the names of the dead, two of them US nationals and the rest Germans, were solemnly read aloud by Christian Wulff, premier of the local state, Lower Saxony.

Since funerals for the 23 are being held in various places, the memorial service was organized in the church of St Vitus in Lathen, north-west Germany so that German President Horst Koehler and other senior officials could pay their respects.

Franz-Josef Bode, Catholic bishop of Osnabrueck, said the crash demonstrated that mankind faced human and technical limitations.

A Lutheran bishop, Doris Janssen-Reschke, told the congregation, that devising the new technology was not enough. "We must ask ourselves as well whether we are able to master it," she said.

Lower Saxony transport officials meanwhile insisted there was no difference between the "safety concept" at the test track and that employed on the world's only commercial maglev track, between the city of Shanghai and its international airport at Pudong.

"The concept we are using is based on that used in Shanghai for passenger transport," said a spokesman in Hanover. However whether those rules were actually obeyed was up to the operator.

The latest maglev prototype slammed into a track maintenance vehicle on Friday, possibly because of human error by drivers or the control room. The revelation that there was no failsafe system to stop the maglev when the track was blocked has shocked Germans.

The technology has only been used commercially once, to build the track in Shanghai with subsidies from Germany. Critics say a plan to build a similar track in suburban Munich with government funds should be dropped because it is too expensive.

The newspaper Handelsblatt said Wednesday the European Commission had been asked to study whether the proposed funding for the link to Munich Airport breached competition rules. The trains can go up to 450 kilometres per hour on a cushion of magnetism.

DPA

Subject: German news

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