Three maglev employees charged over fatal crash

30th August 2007, Comments 0 comments

30 August 2007, OSNABRUECK(AFP) - German prosecutors brought criminal charges Thursday against three employees of a magnetic levitation train operator over a crash last September that cost 23 lives.

30 August 2007

OSNABRUECK(AFP) - German prosecutors brought criminal charges Thursday against three employees of a magnetic levitation train operator over a crash last September that cost 23 lives.

"We have charged three company staff members," public prosecutor Volker Brandt told reporters in the western city of Osnabrueck. They are accused of manslaughter through culpable negligence.

The high-speed magnetic levitation (maglev) Transrapid train collided at 170 kilometres (105 miles) an hour with a parked maintenance vehicle last September on a test track near Lathen, a western town near the Dutch border.

The 23 victims of the crash included 10 employees from the RWE energy company who were riding the train as part of a business trip. Two Americans were also killed.

Transrapid is designed and built by engineering giants Siemens and ThyssenKrupp.
The collision has cast a shadow over efforts to market the revolutionary train that 'floats' above its track and can travel at up to 450 kilometres per hour.

The only Transrapid train in commercial use is in China where the train, known as the Maglev, whisks travellers between Shanghai's financial district and the city's Pudong airport along a 30-kilometre track.

But it has been on hold in Europe since the crash.

Those charged include the control room operator, the manager of the test track and his predecessor in the job.

Prosecutors said the three suspects should have prevented the train from travelling on the part of the track where the 60-tonne maintenance vehicle was parked.
They said it was apparent that the control room operator had "simply forgotten" that the vehicle was still on the track.

"That is clearly proven in the records of the communication (between the control room and the driver)," fellow public prosecutor Joerg Schroeder said.

"If the control room operator had activated the rail barricade there is no way the accident could have happened."

The control room operator has sought psychiatric treatment since the accident, his lawyer Juergen Rechtemeier said.

"The question of whether he can stand trial will be posed when a date for a court hearing has been set," he said.

AFP

Subject: German news

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