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Cologne U-Bahn collision - Brake defect known hours before accident

  : Tuesday, August 24, 1999
A defect in the braking system of a prototype underground train was known several hours before an accident which injured

Wrecked carriages at Christophstrasse, Cologne

67 people in Cologne.


Why this course to it let drive? exp Cologne - the horror travel of the town center printer. Since yesterday is certain: Because all three brake systems failed, the fully occupied KVB course with speed 60 rested into the disaster. The scandal: it had already given already three hours beforehand, accurately at 14.33 to o'clock a breakdown in the town center printer. Suddenly the brakes stuck. The passengers had to step out. After one hour error detection and after the restart of the computer systems decided Siemens engineers to the Sebastianstrasse: The course can drive again. A devastating decision, which 68 humans with partially heavy violations had to pay. Why this course to it only let drive? Gerd Bieker, director/conductor of the Siemens traffic engineering NRW, admitted yesterday on a press conference of the KVB: " complete electronics of the brake assembly failed completely. " Also it acknowledged the breakdown before the disaster. " that is unexplainable for us. We will set all levers in motion around this misfortune to clear up. " Additionally it also admitted that " KVB strain-relief on the distance functioned perfectly. " Acknowledged also KVB boss Fritz gau animal: " we controlled all signaling devices between Ebert workstation and Christophstrasse still at the night - they were correct. There are no brake tracks on the track. " The video-Aufzeichnung in the vehicle informs about the KVB disaster. Briefly before the entry into the stop Hansaring failed suddenly the light. The town center printer rushed at the platform past, over-drove a red signal. Humans in the course sat as angewurzelt on the seats. The 36-jaehrige KVB driver Ulrich Mueller tried to bring the course under check - in vain. Because also the second brake security system does not branch to. " normally a course, which races also to high rate by the tunnel, is obligation-stopped automatically ", so KVB Boss gau animal. Ulrich M. the emergency switch pressed 500 meters before the stop Christophstrasse. Gau animal: " the course would have had at the latest now to be stopped. " In addition, the third brake safety level failed. The town center printer cracked with full force on a course of the line 15 which is located in the station, bored themselves into its tail. Irony fate: The line 15 was for four minutes in the stop, had still no driving release. Yesterday examined afternoon KVB experts, Siemens specialists and a consultant of the public prosecutor's office the guaranteed black box town center printers. She recorded the last 700 meters of the horror travel. Upper state State of Regine Appenrodt: " we determine because of negligent bodily injury. It is still unclear whether the determinations will be directed the Siemens AG against Cologne transporting enterprises, or against both. " This question is long clarified for gau animal: " for all technical mechanisms Siemens is responsible. The company received the provisional permission from the technical supervisory board in Duesseldorf for the course, at which the brakes failed. Thursday meets the KVB supervisory board to a crisis meeting.


The driver of the new 'City Centre Sprinter reported a problem with the brakes on Monday afternoon said a spokesperson for KVB (Cologne Transport Authority) at a press conference on Tuesday. Technicians from Siemens AG, the manufacturers of the train would have corrected the fault before releasing the train back into traffic. The train travelled for aprroximately 1.5 kms without brakes before colliding with the rear of anther train standing in Christophstrasse station.

Since its introduction for testing in Cologne during July the train has been withdrawn on three occasions because of technical problems. The prototype is the only train on Cologne's underground railway that employs this particular braking system. There are however nine trains with same system in use in Stuttgart.

The public prosecutor's office has 'siezed' the train's 'travel recorder' for analysis. It is unclear whether proceedings will be taken against either KVB or Seimens AG.

The KVB explained, the exclusive technical responsibility for the 'Sprinter' was with Siemens. It is an "unexplainable process" that the test train drove without brakes into the stationary train. There are still many unanswered questions, which the manufacturer has to clarify, said a KVB spokesperson. Initial discussions with Siemens representatives have already taken place. The KVB assumes that a failure of the brake system was the cause of the collision.

The 'City Center Sprinter' according to the KVB is a prototype, which has not yet recieved final authorisation for operation. It has been used in normal passenger traffic, following clearance by the technical supervisory authority TAB in Duesseldorf for provisional operation.

Salvage work to clear the line went on through the night. More than 100 police officers and approximately 130 firefighters were working until 06:00. The fire-brigade had to cut apart the cars which were wedged into one another by approximately two meters. Some passengers were trapped in the cars.

Earlier Stories

Cologne U-Bahn collision - Brake failure is possible cause
24 Aug 99
Cologne underground trains collide injuring more than 60
24 Aug 99
5 critical in German underground train collision
24 Aug 99
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This file last updated: Saturday, 04-Sep-1999 08:48:52 EDT
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