Expatica news

Cause of Amsterdam CS train collision still unclear

22 May 2004

AMSTERDAM — Investigations into the cause of the train accident at Amsterdam Central Station on Friday evening have not yet pinpointed why an intercity collided head on with a stationary double-decker, injuring 20 people.

The intercity train smashed into the stationary train at about 6.30pm. The front carriage of the intercity ended up on top of its engine.

Hours later rescue workers were continuing to search the front of one of the trains for dead or injured victims. Latest reports indicate that 20 people were injured.

The fire service was forced to use cutting equipment to free two badly wounded passengers trapped in the wreckage. The last injured victim, a woman, was freed about five hours after the accident. It has since been confirmed by police that no one was killed in the accident.

Two trauma helicopters and several ambulances were called in as 16 people were taken to various hospitals across Amsterdam for treatment. Two of the victims were later allowed to return home. 

A spokesman for rail network administrator ProRail said it has not been officially ruled out that more victims will be found in the crumpled part of the intercity. Despite this, police have said no one was killed in the accident.

The cause of the accident was not immediately clear, but television pictures showed the front of the intercity train — which was coming from Utrecht on the way to Haarlem — ended up on top of its engine. The stationary double-decker did not have any passengers on board at the time.

Both drivers survived the crash, but one of them was slightly injured in the accident, Dutch public news service NOS reported.

The railway division of the Transport Ministry and the Council for Transport Safety have launched investigations into the accident.

Council chairman Pieter van Vollenhoven suggested that the accident might have been caused by a track change error. He also said the intercity could have passed through a red light.

The second theory is possible if the intercity train was travelling at less than 40kmh, meaning the network’s blocking system would not have been triggered into action.

Commuters association Rover has since expressed renewed concern over rail safety. Rover said it had previously warned against the increasing number of safety breaches involving red lights. “Can we still say that we can travel safely in the train?” a spokesman said.

Amsterdam Central was immediately cleared and sealed off after the accident and all train travel to and from the station was halted. Prins Hendrikkade — the main road directly in front of the station — was also closed off.

Dutch rail operator NS had advised commuters on Friday night to avoid Amsterdam as much as possible. Train travellers in the city could use the metro, tram and bus, ProRail said.

The authorities set up a special telephone number for worried relatives and friends seeking information about the victims. The number is 0800 0540.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news + Amsterdam train crash