Rhine Valley line in Germany reopens after fatal accident

A BLS Cargo locomotive hit part of a concrete bridge that had fallen onto the line, killing the driver.

The Rhine Valley line in Germany, a major freight artery from Germany to Italy through Switzerland, reopened on 8 April 2020 having been closed at Auggen since a fatal accident six days earlier.

On Thursday 2 April, at around 19:30, a freight train carrying seven lorries as part of the RAlpin rolling road service, travelling from Freiburg im Breisgau, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, to Novara in northern Italy via Basle, Switzerland, collided with a large concrete structure that was on the track. It had fallen off a bridge that was due to be demolished over the following weekend as it was to be replaced by a new, larger one.

The 51-year-old driver of the BLS Cargo locomotive died at the scene. Three of the lorry drivers, who were sitting in a coach behind the loco, were injured.

BLS Cargo and SBB Cargo International jointly operate the trains on behalf of RAlpin – the Rolling Highway – with SBB Cargo International being responsible for the German and Italian sections of the route.

Sven Flore, SBB Cargo International.

Sven Flore, chief executive officer of SBB Cargo International, was deeply affected: “I am dismayed and deeply regret this tragic train accident. In our thoughts, we are with the crashed train driver and his relatives – my sincere condolences. We wish the injured a speedy recovery soon.”

An investigation into the accident has been launched. It happened on the same stretch of railway that was closed for seven weeks in 2017 when a tunnel under construction collapsed at Ratstatt.

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