Rail officials aware of defective door problems prior to fatal accident
Problems with the anti-trap protection system on train doors that led to the fatal accident of a conductor have been known for years according to a recent internal inspection. Over the past five years, rail officials initiated more than 300 maintenance measures.
On Saturday, Jean-Philippe Schmidt, a spokesperson for Swiss Federal Railways (SBB), confirmed to Keystone-SDA that there were 328 interventions to address issues with the anti-trap protection system on doors in the last five years. This means that something had to be replaced, adjusted or fixed on a door around once a week.
This statement was in response to questions raised by an SBB internal inspection of EW IV trains following the death of a conductor due to a door defect in early August. The 54-year-old conductor got trapped in a door and was dragged along by the train as it left Baden station, some 20km west of Zurich.
The inspection revealed 69 doors had safety problems associated with the anti-trap protection system. Schmidt did not comment on whether this represented a higher than normal frequency.
However, Jürg Hurni from the union of transport employees (SEV) finds this distressing. In an interview in the German-language paper Der Bund, Hurni said that “When the SBB is regularly contacted by employees about defects in the anti-trap protection system, there is clearly a pattern.”
He argues that SBB should have shortened the period of time between inspections.
SBB regularly tests the anti-trap protection function every seven to ten days along with a more thorough check every 60 days. Every year, around 2,000 doors are inspected 50 times, which comes to around 100,000 inspections per year, says Schmidt.
The SBB internal inspection took place August 12-28 and included 458 cars with 1,832 doors. According to SBB, all defective doors identified have been repaired or blocked.
An external audit and further investigations are underway. By the end of October, the SBB is expected to release a detailed plan of how to move forward on the matter.