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Special Feature
Eschede, Germany
ICE High Speed Train Disaster
the accident | what went wrong | analysis | the train | links |

A combination of circumstances came together to ensure that the Eschede accident became a major Eschede ICE disaster tragedy. Features of both the infrastucture and the rolling stock contributed to the scale of the disaster. It is not the intention here to second-guess the findings of the official inquiry. Rather, this section seeks to examine some of those features which appear to be significant and which may be issues that train and infrastructure builders and train operators will address. The results of the Inquiry will be posted here in due course. Follow the links below to learn more...
Disclaimer: Although every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, some information is the result of a best guess and there may be other errors and/or omissions.
the speed
What was the contibution of ICE 884's speed to the accident?
the track
The railway line through Eschede is not a dedicated ICE line. Although it has been prepared for high-speed running there is a significant question about the wisdom of including points (switches) in high-speed layouts.
the wheel
One of the wheels has become the focus of investigations into the cause of the accident. The type of wheel used on the ICE 1 trainsets is more usually found on Rapid Transit/Light Rail vehicles...
the bridge
The bridge at Eschede was an unimportant affair carrying only a minor road. Was this the major design consideration rather than that it crossed a four line, high-speed railway?
The power-to-weight ratio is an important design consideration in high-speed trains and aluminium is the material of choice for their construction. There is however evidence that its use in high-speed train carriages, occupants may be at risk.

The accident at Eschede is no the only example of a train bringing a bridge down onto itself
An accident at Granville in Australia had many similarites to that at Eschede. Here, a train derailed, demolished a bridge support resulting in the decking falling onto the train killing 83 people.

Top the accident | what went wrong | analysis | the train | links |

the train
ICE 884 was comprised of a total of 14 vehicles, two power cars, and twelve trailer cars. It was part of a fleet of 60 ICE1 (first generation) units introduced into service in 1991. The fleet comprised...

  • 120 Class 401 Power Cars
  • 690 Trailer cars comprising...
    • 199 Class 801 First class
    • 400 Class 802 Second class
    • 60 Class 803 Service cars
    • 60 Class 804 Restaurant cars
The trains have a maximum service speed of 280 km/h which is permitted on specially constructed, dedicated high-speed track. Elsewhere, the maximum speed is limited to 225 km/h.

ICE 884

Composition of the train
Power car Trailer car Trailer car
Power Car - 401 051-8 808 802-6 2nd Class (Smoking + Video) 802 609-8 2nd Class
Trailer car Trailer car Trailer car
802 311-1 2nd Class
802 374-9 2nd Class
802 340-0 2nd Class
Trailer car Trailer car Trailer car
802 373-1 2nd Class
802 037-2 2nd Class
803 008-2 Service car (Wheelchairs + crew space + telephone)
Trailer car Trailer car Trailer car
804 010-7 Restaurant Car
801 009-2 1st Class
801 014 1st Class
Trailer car Trailer car  
801 806-1 1st Class (Smoking + video + telephone) 401 551-7 Power Car

Constructed as a collaboration between a number of manufacturing companies, the ICE1s are amongst the most advanced trains in the world. They are equipped with sophisticated safety equipment including a dual braking system (regenerative and friction disc) and in-cab signalling. Many of the train's systems are monitored with information being relayed to the driver. There is even a warning that water in the toilets needs to be replenished. There is not however a system to warn that a carriage has been derailed!

Top the accident | what went wrong | analysis | the train | links |

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