A defect in the braking system of a prototype underground train was known several hours before an accident which injured
67 people in Cologne.
The driver of the new 'City-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Since its introduction for testing in Cologne during July the train has been withdrawn on three occasions because of technical problems.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.
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