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, 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.