Prague, 4 August 2021 (dpa/MIA) – Three people were killed and dozens injured in a head-on train crash in the Czech Republic between a regional service and a German express train, the police said on Wednesday.
The train drivers – both Czech nationals – died in the accident, as well as a woman on the Czech regional train.
Ten people were brought to hospital with serious or life-threatening injuries, according to a rescue services spokesperson. More than 30 people were slightly injured. Many Germans were taken across the border to Bavaria for treatment.
“The situation is serious,” Czech Transport Minister Karel Havlicek said on television after rushing to the scene. He praised the response of the emergency services, members of which had arrived quickly at the scene with dozens of helpers and four rescue helicopters.
Initial findings indicated that the Munich-Prague express train had disregarded a signal to slow down and then a stop sign at Domazlice near the German border, according to Havlicek. It then collided with the local train, a so-called RegioShark, on a single-rail section of the route from Plzen to Domazlice.
The force of the impact crushed the driver’s compartments of both trains.
An investigation into the incident, launched by the Czech rail inspectorate, is likely to take months. It occurred near the village of Milavce, between the stations of Blizejov and Domazlice.
Many passengers were under shock and needed psychological attention. They were housed in a local community centre while their onward journey is organized.
Accidents repeatedly occur on Czech railway lines. The safety technology is considered outdated in many places.
A year ago, two people died in a head-on train collision in the Ore mountains.
The government in Prague then announced a modernization programme. Europe’s modern ETCS train control system has so far only been installed on about 200 kilometres of the Czech network. By 2025, it should be in place on all main rail corridors.
The material damage in Wednesday’s collision runs to millions of euros, according to initial estimates.
For years, there has been talk of expanding the rail connection between Munich and Prague. The current journey time between the two cities – just 300 kilometres apart – is almost six hours.