The railroad maintenance crane that was struck by two different trains on Tuesday morning had arrived too early despite an earlier agreement. As a result, it was either on or near the active track while train traffic was still running. As a result, the vehicle was hit by a freight train moments later, according to a first factual accounting of the incident that ProRail shared with the other parties involved. A copy of the railroad infrastructure firm’s report was obtained by newswire ANP on Friday, and the timeline is outlined below.
Two of the four tracks on the route were out of service for a railroad maintenance project. The overview of facts states that the maintenance contractor asked the ProRail train traffic controller at 3:23 a.m. to stop traffic for a short period of time so that the railroad crane, or KROL, could cross the track. The controller replied “that this will be possible in 10 minutes.” In the factual review, the contractor said that they would wait for an an update from the train traffic controller.
However, according to ProRail, the crane ended up near or on the track that was being used by the DB freight train within that time frame, and it is not yet known why. “For reasons that are unclear, the KROL then arrives on or close to the track in service and is hit by the freight train,” the document stated. “The necessary off-time schedule had not yet been realised.”
After the collision with the freight train, the crane then wound up on the track where a NS Intercity passenger train was traveling in the southbound direction towards The Hague. It collided with the crane, causing the Intercity to derail.
The crane driver, an employee of construction company BAM, was killed in the accident. About thirty passengers on the intercity were injured and nineteen people were hospitalized, several of whom required intensive care.
Due to the accident, train traffic between Leiden and The Hague will be shut down until at least April 18. Contractors are still building a temporary bridge and road to move two derailed NS cars out of the meadow where they came to rest.
A spokesperson for BAM said he would not comment on the report, saying the company will “await the results of further investigations.”
Voorschoten train derailment timeline
3:23 a.m.: The contractor’s on-site safety manager contacts the ProRail train traffic controller with the request to briefly put the tracks next to the worksite out of service so that the crane can safely cross. The train controller replies that this will be possible in 10 minutes. The workplace safety manager gives instructions to wait for a call from the train traffic controller. For reasons that are unclear, the crane then arrives too early on or close to the track in service and is hit by the freight train.
After the collision with the freight train, the crane ends up on the track where the NS passenger train is approaching. This also collides with it, causing the NS train to derail.
3:29 a.m.: The operations control center for infrastructure (OBI) calls the train traffic controller with the report that several overhead lines have failed. It is asked whether there is still train traffic between The Hague and Leiden.
3:31 a.m.: The Railroad Control Room calls the train traffic controller to ask whether an incident has occurred at Voorschoten. The train traffic controller replies that he is not aware of an incident, but that he has received a report from the OBI that the overhead line voltage has been lost.
3:31 and 3:32 a.m.: The train traffic controller calls the freight train, the passenger train and the train behind the freight train, but does not reach any of the drivers.
3:34 a.m.: The driver of the train behind the freight train calls back that the power has been lost just before Mariahoeve.
3:36 a.m.: The Railroad Control Room contacts the train controller again. The control room says that the fire brigade has been informed that a crane has been hit and that the NS control room reports that the NS train has derailed. Emergency services are dispatched.
Reporting by ANP
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