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Gas train crash driver was drunk

  Erik Sandblöm : Sunday April 14, 2000
The driver of the the LPG train which derailed
Borlange, Sweden
in Borlä nge last Saturday (08 April) has been found to have been drunk.
Six freight cars filled with liquified petroleum gas derailed and tipped over at 70 km/h in Borlänge, Sweden (about 300 km northwest of Stockholm) on Saturday morning April 8th at 2:30 am. The speed limit in the area was 40 km/h.

Each car contained 54 metric tonnes of LPG and , but none started leaking. The station and central Borlänge were declared off-limits to the public. 650 were evacuated for a week while the train was emptied of its contents.

Automatic train control braked the train three times in the 30 kilometres before the train crashed in Borlänge station, rail administration Banverket reports. At one point, the train was braked to a stop even though the driver had the opportunity to override braking once a slower, safer speed had been reached. ATC does not cover Borlänge itself, however. The driver is thought to have passed a signal at red or caution just ahead of the turnout at which the train derailed.

Tests show that the driver had 1 per mille alchohol in his blood.

The train drivers' union had blocked random drugs and alchohol testing for "integrity" reasons. But the accident has caused union opposition to random drugs testing to evaporate. "I think we can reach an agreement now. The important thing is that everyone with safety work gets tested," said Bertil Hallén at Seko, the biggest union representing employees of Sweden's biggest train operator SJ. Those opposed to testing felt that if drivers were to be tested, every employee of SJ should be tested regardless of line of work.

The driver had been drunk at work before -- but his friend and collegue drove for him and didn't alert management. "If I had known, of course I would have taken him out of service and made sure he got help," says Johan Masgård, traffic chief at BSM Järnväg, the private operator now owned by BK Tåg.

The train was run by private BSM Järnväg for SSAB which uses the LPG for heating steel. A new track has been built so that SSAB's steel factory in Borlänge can continue its operations although the old factory track is blocked by the derailed train.

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Earlier story
LPG train derails
09 Apr 2000
Web sources:
Six freight cars with liquified petroleum gas derailed
Erik's Rail News 08 Apr 2000
Tågolyckan i Borlänge: Eventuell bärgning i morgon
Expressen 08 Apr 2000

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This file last updated: Sunday, 16-Apr-2000 22:49:13 EDT
Copyright © David Fry 1999