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High speed train derails in Italy, leaving 2 dead

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disturbman

When I first saw the news reports, I was afraid this would be another Eschede but the pictures gave another flavour.

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bikkuri bahn

Raw footage. Especially interesting after 1:50, motor bogies, damage to trackside building, etc.

 

Aerial view of accident site:

 

Edited by bikkuri bahn

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Socimi

I live about 15 Km away from the point of the accident (Lodi is my hometown) wich happened here, at the P.M. of Livraga (P.M. stands for "Posto Movimento", i'm not sure what is the equivalent in english terms, but basically it acts as mid-line maintainance equipment storage), located at Kilometer 166+252 of the Milano-Bologna high-speed line (wich opened in 2008).

 

The train involved is an ETR 400 Series (Bombardier Zefiro manufactured by a consortium of Bombardier and Ansaldobreda/Hitachi Rail Italy), specifically set No.21, wich was delivered in November 2015. All ETR 400s are 8-car sets and are full, indivisible EMUs (therefore there are no "engines" as most news outlets report).

It was running the Frecciarossa No.9595 , a southbound train from Milano Centrale to Salerno via Bologna, Roma, Firenze and Napoli, departing from Milano at 5.35, the first high-speed train of the day.

 

The two deaths are the driver (59) and the co-driver (52), both travelling in the cab car; injuries are 31, all non life-threatning (as it was the first train of the day, it was travelling almost empty).

 

The speed permitted on that section of the line (wich is almost completely straight) is 300 Km/h, the train was travelling at a regular 290 Km/h.

 

As of now, there are two main theories about what went wrong:

 

A) a misaligned switch (as said before, P.M. Livraga acts as storage for maintainance equipment, so there are a few switches).

 

B) a maintainance cart left on the tracks (wich would make this accident very similar to the 2014 Keihin-Tohoku Line derailment)

 

Both theories point to RFI, the railway infrastructure manager, wich is also currently being trialed for the 2018 Pioltello regional train derailment, wich left three dead.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Socimi
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chadbag

So, from looking at the drone video, it appears the cab car totally left the tracks and ended up behind the building, while the rest of it stayed on the tracks, more or less?

 

That is pretty impressive that most of the units would remain on the tracks.  Most of the non cab car damage seems to be the next car in line, from which the cab car was obviously violently de-coupled.

 

Prayers and thoughts for those injured and for the families of the drivers who lost their lives.

 

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Nick_Burman
6 hours ago, Socimi said:

P.M. stands for "Posto Movimento", i'm not sure what is the equivalent in english terms, but basically it acts as mid-line maintainance equipment storage

 

I would use the Conrail terminology CP, "Controlled Point" - any point on the line which is remotely controlled.

 

Cheers Nicholas

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ben_issacs

Folks, 

If the 'Red Arrow' set was running at 290 kph, I'm surprised that most of the train stayed on the tracks, I would have thought that the derailment of the first car  at that speed would have distorted the track sufficently to derail the rest of the train.

And the other Italian railway accident, a suburban trai running through an underground station with one car derailed and striking sparks off the platform coping, anything more on this one?

Not a good day for Italian railways!

Regards, 

Bill,

Melbourne.

 

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Nick_Burman
23 minutes ago, ben_issacs said:

a suburban trai running through an underground station

The accident at Pioltello actually happened on a surface section  in the very wee hours of the morning.

It was bad as it was, had it been underground it would have been a massacre.

 

Cheers Nicholas

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ben_issacs

Nick, 

The video looked like an underground station.

One assumes that the train involved was stopped further on.

Regards,

Bill.

Melbourne.

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ben_issacs

Folks, 

Looking at the rather brief video shots of the wreckage and the scene, there is a four wheeled flat car with a yellow cabin(?) partly up in the air, and a very brief view of an attached ballast hopper.

Unfortunately, most of the shots were taken in early morning light, so aren't all that clear.

Another brief shot of a side on view of the  first coach suggests that it's off the rails.

Regards, 

Bill, 

Melbourne. 

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ben_issacs

Folks, 

There's a lot more video stuff coming over now in daylight, all in Italian, which I hope some of our readers can translate for us.

Looking further at the aerial shots, the power car is way over behind the red roofed building, and facing the other way, a long way away from the main line..

It's difficult to see how the flat car with the cabin and the ballast hopper were involved, they look to be away from the main line.

There are some shots of tracks, taken at ground level, showing badly buckled track, which seems to be some distance away from the final accident site.

There are plenty of shots of the passenger car on its side,, but nothing close up of the lead power car.

All rather confusing!.

Regards,

Bill, 

Melbourne.

 

 

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paolo

Apparently the cause of the accident was that the switch was thrown in a diverging path, while in the systems it was showing as straight.

The night before the accident, they were doing some maintenance on the switch, and the workers informed the main control center that the switch was put offline, but it was thrown straight. They manually input this in the system, so that the trains would be allowed to transit at the maximum speed.

Unfortunately, for reasons still unknown, the switch was thrown in the wrong direction.

That Frecciarossa 9595 was the first train of the day passing on that switch.

The cab car got detached from the rest of the train as soon as it hit the switch and ended up hitting a couple of maintenance cars and hit the building . The rest of the train derailed.

 

Link to an Italian newspaper detailing this:

https://www.ilfattoquotidiano.it/2020/02/06/incidente-frecciarossa-il-procuratore-di-lodi-lo-scambio-interessato-dai-lavori-di-manutenzione-non-doveva-essere-in-quella-posizione/5698271/

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marknewton

What an awful end for the crew. 
 

Mark.

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Socimi
On 2/7/2020 at 1:42 AM, ben_issacs said:

Folks, 

If the 'Red Arrow' set was running at 290 kph, I'm surprised that most of the train stayed on the tracks, I would have thought that the derailment of the first car  at that speed would have distorted the track sufficently to derail the rest of the train.

And the other Italian railway accident, a suburban trai running through an underground station with one car derailed and striking sparks off the platform coping, anything more on this one?

Not a good day for Italian railways!

Regards, 

Bill,

Melbourne.

 

 

Those switches at P.M. Livraga are a special, reinforced type where trains are able to switch on the divergent route at speeds up to 160Km/h (altough they're currently limited to 100Km/h because of the lack of regulation for newer high-speed switched).

 

The Pioltello regional train accident happened two years ago, it happened at the beginning of the year in the morning (in winters here in northern Italy, sunrise is about at 8:00-8.30), altough it's unfolding is closer to the Eschede derailment of 1998 (with the exception that echede was caused by a wheel, Pioltello was caused by a rail instead), than to this FrecciaRossa derailment.

 

On 2/7/2020 at 7:08 AM, ben_issacs said:

Folks, 

Looking at the rather brief video shots of the wreckage and the scene, there is a four wheeled flat car with a yellow cabin(?) partly up in the air, and a very brief view of an attached ballast hopper.

Unfortunately, most of the shots were taken in early morning light, so aren't all that clear.

Another brief shot of a side on view of the  first coach suggests that it's off the rails.

Regards, 

Bill, 

Melbourne. 

 

On 2/7/2020 at 8:16 AM, ben_issacs said:

Folks, 

There's a lot more video stuff coming over now in daylight, all in Italian, which I hope some of our readers can translate for us.

Looking further at the aerial shots, the power car is way over behind the red roofed building, and facing the other way, a long way away from the main line..

It's difficult to see how the flat car with the cabin and the ballast hopper were involved, they look to be away from the main line.

There are some shots of tracks, taken at ground level, showing badly buckled track, which seems to be some distance away from the final accident site.

There are plenty of shots of the passenger car on its side,, but nothing close up of the lead power car.

All rather confusing!.

Regards,

Bill, 

Melbourne.

 

 

 

As of now the general consensus seems to be an amalgamae of the two theories i've posted in my post above:

Train No.9595 took the first "down" (Bologna-bound switch), wich was set at a diverging route, at 292Km/h, derailing outwards due to excessive speed, immediately afterwards (while it was still mostly on the tracks) it hit a maintainace cart parked on an adjacent or the same track (both are storage tracks, there was nothing parked on the main line).

The force of the hit was so high, the front power car actually turned 180° degrees on itself, (now facing Milano), killing istantly the driver and the co-driver. 

The leading and the second car also hit the "Communications" building to the south, wich houses all the equipment (Relais, GSM-R and so on) to manage the traffic on that section of the line. The catenary was also damaged.

 

This is from "IlCittadino", my local newspaper, and has a good view of the accident site (to the left, you can see the leading car facing Milano).

 

https://www.ilcittadino.it/cronaca/2020/02/07/frecciarossa-per-la-procura-l-ipotesi-prevalente-quella-dello-scambio-guasto-video/qm5PWP443X9vclEBFq9yx3/index.html

 

As of now, all high-speed trains have been redirected onto the "Conventional" Milano-Bologna Line between San Zenone al Lambro and Piacenza, travelling thru Tavazzano, Lodi (my local station), Casalpusterlengo and Codogno.

As a result, all suburban services (S1 and S12 in rush hours) have been and will be cancelled, along half of the Trenord-run Piacenza - Milano Greco Pirelli regional trains. The other half will be making extra stops at Tavazzano, San Zenone al Lambro and Melegnano, replacing the suburban trains. Some Trenitalia fast regional trains ("RV" - Regionale Veloce) going towards Milano are limited at Piacenza.

In general, anything that's not high-speed has been canceled or has, and will have strong delays for the forseeable future.

 

This is not a good period for Italian rail transportation, as less than a month ago two Naples Subway Line 1 trains (both of the M1 Series of 1993) collided at the line's terminus, Piscinola, without deaths, just 9 injuries. Of the two, one was coming from the depot and entering the line and the other was approaching the station.

Apparently, the train coming from the depot jumped a red signal (the train's ATC system was also not activated) and was rammed by the other train.

 

 

Edited by Socimi
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ben_issacs

Folks, 

Looking at the 'El Citadano" photo, one can see the distorted main line track at the r.h. end, then one can go left and see the distortions to further tracks as the front car is thrown across from right to left, hitting the perway vehicles on the way, and somehow turning completly around and ending up alongside the red roofed building.

I wonder if along the way the nose dug in, thus somersaulting the front car?

No doubt this will be thoroughly investigated, but this will probably take a year to finalise.

Regards,

Bill,

Melbourne.

 

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Socimi
10 hours ago, ben_issacs said:

No doubt this will be thoroughly investigated, but this will probably take a year to finalise.

 

The investigation yes, but all the following trials and tribulations will take far more. For comparison, the first sentence for the 2009 Viareggio train derailment was handed in 2017.

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Socimi

First definitive results are in:

 

Brief track layout of P.M. Livraga, running tracks are red, and the switch that caused the accident is circled in green.

 

Each of the two tracks ("Up" for Milano, "Down" for Bologna) has it's own passing loop for overtaking trains, altough they're rarely used.

Connected to the passing loop in the "Down" direction, is a small yard used to park maintainance vehicles.

There's also a one-floor building ("Communications Post") wich also houses all the signalling and communications equipment used on it's section of the line.

 

PMlivraga.png

 

The Milano-Bologna Line is controlled by a DCO (Dirigente Centrale Operativo, "Central Operational Director") wich is the person wich oversees (togheter with his subordinates) the whole line from his control post located in Bologna.


On the night between 5 and 6 February 2020, work was scheduled on the switches connecting the running lines to the small yard used to park maintainance equipment.

 

On all DCO-managed lines, the switches are remotely controlled (and overseen) from the central control post.

When maintainance is to be done on they they're switched from remote control to local control by the maintainance team, always after the consent of the DCO, wich is to be notified in advance of anything that is planned to happen on his line.

 

At P.M. Livraga, maintainance works were done normally, and when they were finished, the maintainance team (4 workers and one team leader) called the central operating room at 4:45 and confirmed that the switch was back in remote control (the exact transcript is "deviatoio confermato bloccato e disalimentato" - "switch confirmed locked and un-alimented").

 

It wasn't.

 

This is the first human error: the workers on the line wrongly communicated that the switch was back in DCO's control, but it was still in local control. Furthemore, it was left on the diverging route!

 

At around 5, the DCO shift changed, and the morning DCO came to replace the night one, wich informed him that the works at P.M. Livraga were concluded and evrything was back to normal. At evry shift change, DCOs are required to check that evrything is in order, whatever small thing there might be.

 

He didn't.

 

This is the second human error: the morning DCO did not check or did not see that one of the switches was still in local control, and not in DCO's remote control.

 

On the current software used by high-speed lines control centers, there is no way to see in wich position is a local-controlled switch, as they simply black-out from the computer screen, with just one note above wich says "in local" control, as one assumes that when a switch is in local control, there's a team there to oversee it.

 

The team was already away.

 

This is the first software error: it does not accounts for a possible human error. It might do in many other cases, but in this crucial one, it did't.

 

On evry older traffic control system, including the widerspread and reliable ACEI electromechanical system, wich is the most widely used system to control traffic on conventional lines, the position of the switches is always shown, no matter what.

 

The Milano-Bologna (along with all the high-speed railway network of italy) uses ERMTS, wich is a moving-block system using GSMR signals.

Unlike rail-transmitted systems (Japanese ATC, Soviet ALSN, Dutch ATB or Italian RSC), ERMTS is a radio-based system transmitted by antennaes along the line, not conntected to the track circuits, and therefore not able to recognize them.

As an additional saftey mesaure, each switch has its own antennae, wich transmit the switch's speed limit to the train, but this works only in remote-control mode.

 

That switch was still in local-control.

 

This is the second, and final software error: ERMTS gave a wrongful indication of a maximium permitted speed (300 Km/h) over a switch with a limit of 100Km/h, as it can't recognise wich was the main line and wich was the passing loop.

 

Accidents are always caused by a sum of errors, never by just one alone.

 

So far, the four workers and the team leader are being questioned by the National Police, but i expect to see Bologna's DCO also under investigation very soon.

 

Meanwhile, RFI has issued a quite propagandistic communiqué wich goes a bit like this:


"RFI is one of the safest networks in the world according to UIC blah blah blah we run at a SIL4 saftey level the same one used by NASA blah blah blah Global Saftey Index one of the bests in europe blah blah blah 2019 2 billions spent on infrastructure blah blah blah high-speed lines all use ERTMS blah blah blah first in europe to use GSM-R blah blah blah..."

 

... and Italian news outlets are giving all themselves in doing what they do best evrytime something like this happens:

 

- pretending to know shit (and actually knowing nothing)

- allarmism (a bit of allarmism is always good for the press)

 

In these two days i've seen, heard and read otherwordly stuff like "at the time (5:30 in the morning!) the line was satured", "the train hit a locomotive shed", "line works like these are uncommon", "the train was travelling in front [Sic]", "the train slipped out of the tracks" and "scambiatoio" (wich is a made-up mix between the two italian words for switch: Scambio and Deviatoio).

 

Some ones were quick to point out the fact that is a "cursed line" because in '97 a train also derailed there, wich is absolute horseshit: the Pendolino derailment of 1997 happened on the conventional line near Piacenza, at the time, the Milano-Bologna high-speed line existed only on blueprints.

Others were instead complaining that "high-speed trains are too fast" and various other ludicrous things.

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Socimi
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Sheffie

Thank you, @Socimi, for your account of the accident and the circumstances leading up to it. I feel like I understand, now. 

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katoftw

That trackside team and first controller are gonna be in the sh!t. Controller the worst.

 

Controllers should test turnouts to confirm they have been returned to remote control. Hence finding any issues with local or remote control.

 

And the trackside guys clearly didnt finish thier job.

Edited by katoftw

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ben_issacs

I agree with Sheffie, many thanks to Socimi for the explanation of the various control systems and the track diagram.

One suspects that in these circumstances, there could be manslaughter charges laid against various persons.

Regards,

Bill,

Melbourne.

 

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Socimi
1 hour ago, ben_issacs said:

I agree with Sheffie, many thanks to Socimi for the explanation of the various control systems and the track diagram.

One suspects that in these circumstances, there could be manslaughter charges laid against various persons.

Regards,

Bill,

Melbourne.

 

 

Apparently, the five workers will be charged with negligence resulting in injuries, negligent manslaughter and "railway disaster" (in Italian law it's a crime by itself).

No news yet about the DCO, but i suspect he will be charged with similar crimes.

 

More info here

Edited by Socimi

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Socimi

https://ibb.co/VLwFZCG

 

https://ibb.co/xJ36MSM

 

Two pictures taken by me at the accident site last week. As of now, operations to remove the train have begun.

 

In an apparent twist, a main component of the control circuit of the switch's motor was found installed reversed, in such a way that if the switch was set on the diverging route, it would have appeared as set to the straight route to the DCO.

The switches control systems are made by Alstom, but it's still unclear wether it was a factory defect (all the switches of the same lot are being checked one by one, and the chairman of Alstom Italy -Michele Vitale- is being questioned by the National Police) or if the five workers made a mistake when reassembling it.

 

IMG_20200212_113151_1.jpg

Edited by Socimi

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cteno4

I would think after working on a point they would be required radio the control center to verify the point was registering correctly at the control center after local and remote throwing of the point before it was certified to be back in operation.

 

but if factory fault wouldn’t it have been working in reverse before the work? Or did they switch out new parts in the work?

 

jeff

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Socimi
4 hours ago, cteno4 said:

but if factory fault wouldn’t it have been working in reverse before the work? Or did they switch out new parts in the work?

 

This is what is being investigated at the moment. Of course, the second option of the workers' mistake is far more plausible.

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Nick_Burman
On 2/8/2020 at 11:33 AM, Socimi said:

the first sentence for the 2009 Viareggio train derailment was handed in 2017.

 

And the wagon which blew up is still sitting there...

 

Cheers NB

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