Train GraphicClick on the map to explore geographics
 
I need help
FAQ
Emergency
About .
Travel & transport from BBC stories as at 06:35 03 Dec 2022
- Train strikes: RMT union hopeful of offer to end rail dispute
- Rail strike is cancelled - at the cost of paid sick leave
Read about the forum [here].
Register [here] - it's free.
What do I gain from registering? [here]
 30/03/23 - Railfuture Annual, Leeds

No 'On This Day' events reported for 3rd Dec

Train RunningCancelled
05:20 Bristol Temple Meads to Exmouth
06:31 Falmouth Docks to Truro
Short Run
06:31 Severn Beach to Bristol Temple Meads
06:50 Penzance to St Ives
07:25 Exmouth to Paignton
12:30 Swindon to Weston-Super-Mare
13:32 London Paddington to Weston-Super-Mare
14:02 Weston-Super-Mare to London Paddington
16:02 Weston-Super-Mare to London Paddington
Delayed
05:55 Exeter St Davids to Paignton
PollsThere are no open or recent polls
Abbreviation pageAcronymns and abbreviations
Stn ComparatorStation Comparator
Rail newsNews Now - live rail news feed
Site Style 1 2 3 4
Next departures • Bristol Temple MeadsBath SpaChippenhamSwindonDidcot ParkwayReadingLondon PaddingtonMelksham
Exeter St DavidsTauntonWestburyTrowbridgeBristol ParkwayCardiff CentralOxfordCheltenham SpaBirmingham New Street
December 03, 2022, 06:49:40 am *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
Forgotten your username or password? - get a reminder
Most recently liked subjects
[95] "Just keep playing trains" - railways as mental health therapy...
[66] Growing Rail Revenue
[57] Why does Cholsey bridge have such a tall hump?
[56] Reopening Cullompton and Wellington stations (merged topic)
[53] Vivarail in financial difficulties
[49] Breakaway to East Anglia
News: the Great Western Coffee Shop ... keeping you up to date with travel around the South West
 
   Home   Help Search Calendar Login Register  
Pages: [1] 2
  Print  
Author Topic: Six children killed in collision between train and school bus in France - 14 Dec 2017  (Read 7285 times)
SandTEngineer
Hero Member
*****
Posts: 3485


View Profile
« on: December 14, 2017, 05:23:39 pm »

https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/892396/School-bus-crash-train-TER-Millas-crossing-injured-children-police-France

Sounds quite serious and distressing.  The level crossing appears to be an AHB.

Quote
FOUR children have been killed and at least 19 people are 'seriously injured' after school bus was "cut in two" when it was hit by a train this afternoon.

The vehicle, which was traveling between Perpignan and Villefranche-de-Conflent, is believed to have entered a level crossing at Los Palaus in Millas, France, while the barriers were down before being hit from behind by the regional TER train.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2017, 05:33:42 pm by SandTEngineer » Logged
ChrisB
Transport Scholar
Hero Member
******
Posts: 11294


View Profile Email
« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2017, 06:05:50 pm »

Photo on BBC» (British Broadcasting Corporation - home page) News of the bus showed it seriously damaged but appsrently intact. Sad incident, of which France seems to get more than average just lately
Logged
stuving
Transport Scholar
Hero Member
******
Posts: 6517


View Profile
« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2017, 06:50:08 pm »

Photo on BBC» (British Broadcasting Corporation - home page) News of the bus showed it seriously damaged but appsrently intact. Sad incident, of which France seems to get more than average just lately

This does sound all too much like a repeat of Allinges in 2008 (earlier posts here and here). In that case there was an obvious issue with the crossing, which was on a slope and a bend and hard to get a bus over without stranding. In this case the crossing is flat, in open level ground on a straight road. However, there is a turning on each side - 17 m away in one case. So for the traffic to be blocked is not so unlikely, though of course the standard rules for level crossings should cope with that. 
Logged
stuving
Transport Scholar
Hero Member
******
Posts: 6517


View Profile
« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2017, 08:28:17 pm »

The reports are still rather contradictory about how such a thing happened, but presumably it will become clear once the driver has been interviewed. Everyone has now been rescued from the train, though that took some time as a crane was needed to move wreckage to get access. A few details I can find out:

  • The bus came from the new secondary school (college), which opened on 2015 in the south of Millas.
  • A minor road along the south edge of town (Cami Ralet) was widened to provide access for buses without going through the town.
  • This road comes out onto the Route de Thuir 17 m south of the level crossing. The bus would turn left, cross the railway, and go straight on to the D916 and along that to Saint Feliu d'Amont.
  • There are eight trains a day each way between Perpignan and Villefranche-de-Conflent/Vernet-les-Bains.
  • This TER was the 15:56 at Millas towards Perpignan, about ten minutes late.
Logged
SandTEngineer
Hero Member
*****
Posts: 3485


View Profile
« Reply #4 on: December 14, 2017, 09:05:44 pm »

Photo on BBC» (British Broadcasting Corporation - home page) News of the bus showed it seriously damaged but appsrently intact. Sad incident, of which France seems to get more than average just lately

I don't think so.  The photographs clearly (unfortunately) show the bus cut into two.

This photograph from the SUN https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/nintchdbpict000373203598.jpg?strip=all&w=870

« Last Edit: December 14, 2017, 09:20:15 pm by SandTEngineer » Logged
stuving
Transport Scholar
Hero Member
******
Posts: 6517


View Profile
« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2017, 11:06:00 am »

There are now, sadly, two more deaths reported - two 11-year old girls. Since ten are still critically ill, the total of six deaths is likely to rise further. The bus driver is too badly injured to have been interviewed, but there was a  second bus right behind it. That driver presumably has been interviewed, as has the train driver. No doubt both are suffering greatly from what they have seen happen.

There is a load of rather pointless speculation about the operation of the crossing, based on a picture from just after the accident showing the relevant barrier raised and intact. Obviously that rules out some possibilities, but note that the barrier is 5 m from the track centre and a bus is about 12 m long. SNCF (Societe Nationale des Chemins de fer Francais - French National Railways) are limiting themselves to saying what was recorded by their signalling based on detection of the crossing systems: that it worked correctly.

I have heard nothing of front-view CCTV (Closed Circuit Tele Vision) from the train - maybe they don't have it. (I've not even seen what type of train it was.)
« Last Edit: December 15, 2017, 11:14:22 am by stuving » Logged
Chris from Nailsea
Administrator
Hero Member
*****
Posts: 17845


I am not railway staff


View Profile Email
« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2017, 11:58:05 am »

From the BBC» (British Broadcasting Corporation - home page):

Quote
France Millas train crash: Children killed as bus cut in two

A train and a school bus have collided near Perpignan in southern France, leaving at least six children dead.

Eighteen people were injured, some of them critically, after the crash on a level crossing between Millas and Saint-Féliu-d'Amont.

The bus had picked up pupils from a nearby secondary school before it was hit by a train travelling at about 80km/h (50mph).

Pictures from the scene showed the bus split in two by the force of the crash.

Train operator SNCF (Societe Nationale des Chemins de fer Francais - French National Railways) said witnesses had reported seeing the barriers at the level crossing down at the time of the collision, although that was not confirmed.

The bus, which had left the Christian Bourquin College in Millas, was on the crossing when it was hit by the train, which was travelling from Perpignan. Visibility was described as good.

Four children died at the scene on Thursday. Two 11-year-old girls succumbed to their injuries on Friday morning.

A witness who was on the train told local news website l'Indépendant that "it was a very violent crash - it seemed as if the train would derail".

Some 30 people were on the regional train at the time.


Pictures from the scene showed the school bus sheared in two

Investigators are waiting to interview the driver of the bus. She was slightly injured in the crash. The train driver also escaped serous injury.

Carole Delga, president of the Occitanie regional council, said the level crossing appeared to be in very good condition and had been upgraded recently. "The level crossing was very visible," she said. SNCF said it had an automatic barrier with standard signals and was not considered particularly dangerous.

But the grandmother of an injured 11-year-old girl who had been on the bus told a very different story. The girl said the barrier had not come down but remained raised. "The red lights that normally flash did not come on," she said. "The (bus) driver went through and stopped half way, and that's where the train crashed into it."

Rail operator SNCF has modernised level crossings across France in recent years, following numerous accidents, the BBC's Chris Bockman reports from Toulouse.



More than 150 emergency workers and four helicopters were deployed as part of the rescue effort.

Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne called the crash a "terrible accident" and Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer was due to visit a counselling centre set up at the Christian Bourquin College on Friday.

A statement from the education minister's office said he would visit "to support students, families, teachers and the entire educational community".

In a tweet, French President Emmanuel Macron offered his condolences: "All my thoughts for the victims of this terrible accident involving a school bus, as well as their families. The state is fully mobilised to help them."


Logged

William Huskisson MP (Member of Parliament) was the first person to be killed by a train while crossing the tracks, in 1830.  Many more have died in the same way since then.  Don't take a chance: stop, look, listen.

"Level crossings are safe, unless they are used in an unsafe manner."  Discuss.
stuving
Transport Scholar
Hero Member
******
Posts: 6517


View Profile
« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2017, 12:31:38 pm »

It now seems that the earlier report of two further deaths was not correct. Its source was not actually official, and the prefecture now says the total is still four.

And that second bus, similarly, was more likely in front and not behind. I saw only one source that said it was following, and for it to have crossed first makes a lot more sense of the events.
Logged
stuving
Transport Scholar
Hero Member
******
Posts: 6517


View Profile
« Reply #8 on: December 15, 2017, 07:02:42 pm »

The current state of the enquiry was given in a press conference, by the head prosecutor, this afternoon. This started with the official death toll having risen to five.

He gave some information about witness statements, while warning that it was incomplete and contradictory. The main item was that of 14 witnesses interviewed, most said the barriers were down. That led to his being cross-examined by the journos to reveal what that means - which of course he can't say. Why is it the press have this fixed world-view that someone official must know everything and is just being secretive? He got rather irritated by this, unsurprisingly.

Of course the question is not was the barrier down, but did it come down and exactly when relative to the bus and train passing. The bus driver hasn't spoken to the gendarmes, but did to her boss last night. He gave a version of her story, followed by accusing SNCF (Societe Nationale des Chemins de fer Francais - French National Railways) of blaming her (which I don't think they did, except by implication by not admitting their fault), saying that unlike them he would wait for the results of the enquiry, but added "at which time I hope SNCF will accept their responsibility". Not helpful, really.

It now appears there were at least three buses, one of which was following and "provided assistance". However, if they weren't close they won't provide evidence of the events. As often in this kind of case, all of those in that bus (including the driver) came from the one village of Saint-Féliu-d'Avall.

There were two train drivers, in fact, a trainee and supervisor. The prosecutor gave the speed as 75 km/hr where the limit is 100, and that they had possession of the bande graphique. This appears to be from a kind of souped-up tachograph, which draws a line for the speed vs time, and also marks all on-board bells, buzzers, etc. that derive from signals. But electromechanical, rather than a modern OTDR (On Train Data Recorder)/OTMR (On Train Monitoring Recorder), and given the implied age of the train CCTV (Closed Circuit Tele Vision) should not be expected.
« Last Edit: December 17, 2017, 12:30:03 pm by stuving » Logged
stuving
Transport Scholar
Hero Member
******
Posts: 6517


View Profile
« Reply #9 on: December 15, 2017, 07:51:25 pm »

This railway line, from Le Soler on the edge of Perpignan to Villefranche-de-Conflent, is overhead electrified, which may seem odd given how Pyrenean it is. It has a rather odd history.

In 1912 it was used as an electrification test-bed by the Compagnie du Midi, who chose the German system of 12 kV 16.67 Hz. Before this was spread wider (there was this war ...) central government chose 1500 V DC (Direct Current), leaving this line as a little electric island. It was kept going until 1971 with original rolling stock, by then 60 year old. If any forum members were scouring Europe for such quaint ancient trains at the time you may have been to see it.

After a spell of diesel power, the OLE (Overhead Line Equipment, more often "OHLE") was adapted for 1500 V in 1984 (allegedly on the cheap) and it probably still has the trains it was equipped with then. The line out to Le Soler was rebuilt for the LGV (Large Goods Vehicle) over to Figueras, but still using 1500 V. Incidentally, the line from Villefranche-Vernet-Les-Bains (its official name) onward to Latour-de-Carol - "le train jaune" - is one of those scary French mountain railways with 850 V third rail. Some of the line is fenced, and some of the third rail has planks both side, but some of it is ... pretty naked.
Logged
stuving
Transport Scholar
Hero Member
******
Posts: 6517


View Profile
« Reply #10 on: December 16, 2017, 02:43:16 pm »

Despite last night's official summary of witness statements, I'm beginning to wonder about this level crossing. There's just too many locals being quoted as saying it was not working properly, not just going back over years but in the last few days. Even allowing for the quotes being gathered by uncritical reporters and then passed through the 24-hour news echo chamber, so they mostly contradict themselves as well as each other, this crossing clearly was not good reliable kit. And SNCF (Societe Nationale des Chemins de fer Francais - French National Railways) have yet to issue anything other than non-committal holding statements.

The crossing should fail safe, at least in principle. So reports of the barriers staying down for long periods, staff taking ages to intervene, or trains passing very slowly, do not in themselves represent dangers. However, it is still not clear how closely the machinery was monitored, and how rapid any response to a failure would be.

I see two issues here. One is a failure of the barriers and lights at just the wrong instant, with a train seconds away. The other is the loss of confidence of road users if the barriers are down for long periods with no staff presence, especially if that happens often. It's all very well to say "turn round an go another way" - there are a lot of other level crossings nearby - but a bus can't do that, even without a load of impatient teenagers in the back. The railway has an absolute duty to protect road users by warning them and closing the crossing when needed. They also have a more general duty not to obstruct the road for no good reason. I imagine that in France that is spelled out more clearly than it is here.

Time, and the investigators, will tell.
Logged
stuving
Transport Scholar
Hero Member
******
Posts: 6517


View Profile
« Reply #11 on: December 19, 2017, 08:41:51 pm »

You may have seen that the death toll has sadly risen to six.

After a day spent with a bus, recreating the events of the accident, it was announced tonight that "traces" had been found on the side of original bus, which suggest at least the possibility of it pushing past the barrier lowered. The driver has been placed under arrest in hospital. But there is still great confusion (conveyed in the prosecutor's news releases) about the relative timing of the bus crossing and the crossing lights and barrier operating.
Logged
Chris from Nailsea
Administrator
Hero Member
*****
Posts: 17845


I am not railway staff


View Profile Email
« Reply #12 on: December 19, 2017, 09:15:03 pm »

You may have seen that the death toll has sadly risen to six.

Thank you for your update, stuving.  I have, with much sadness, now amended the topic heading. Sad

Logged

William Huskisson MP (Member of Parliament) was the first person to be killed by a train while crossing the tracks, in 1830.  Many more have died in the same way since then.  Don't take a chance: stop, look, listen.

"Level crossings are safe, unless they are used in an unsafe manner."  Discuss.
stuving
Transport Scholar
Hero Member
******
Posts: 6517


View Profile
« Reply #13 on: January 19, 2018, 06:54:36 pm »

There was a little flurry of press coverage of this event one month, after, but without anything new to report. Then today we get the traditional leak from the official (criminal) enquiry, of witness statements (obtained by francetvinfo:).

These include, notably, those best placed to see - the train driver and trainee, driver and passenger of the van first in the queue the other side of the crossing, and two children in the bus right at the front. All agree that the bus (now stated as the first of three) drove through the lowered barrier.

The bus driver was interviewed three times by the juges, but not since being charged, and is still in hospital (psychiatric, as I understand it). Her story is quite different, of course. There was also an SMS on her phone recorded as arriving a few seconds before the impact, though never opened for reading. That should not be an issue, indeed it is probably a common occurrence.

I'm not sure those revelations will stop people jumping to take sides - but I doubt it. The driver has had a lot of support locally (she lives in the same village as all the kids on the bus), with a lot of those signing a petition coming from outside too. Plus there are those who assumed SNCF (Societe Nationale des Chemins de fer Francais - French National Railways) were to blame for a variety for reasons (unconnected with this event).
Logged
SandTEngineer
Hero Member
*****
Posts: 3485


View Profile
« Reply #14 on: January 19, 2018, 09:07:50 pm »

Thanks for posting that update, Stuving.  A very sad and distressing incident.  I wonder if the level crossing has an event recorder (data logger)?  Not seen one mentioned in the reports you have linked to so far.
Logged
Do you have something you would like to add to this thread, or would you like to raise a new question at the Coffee Shop? Please [register] (it is free) if you have not done so before, or login (at the top of this page) if you already have an account - we would love to read what you have to say!

You can find out more about how this forum works [here] - that will link you to a copy of the forum agreement that you can read before you join, and tell you very much more about how we operate. We are an independent forum, provided and run by customers of Great Western Railway, for customers of Great Western Railway and we welcome railway professionals as members too, in either a personal or official capacity. Views expressed in posts are not necessarily the views of the operators of the forum.

As well as posting messages onto existing threads, and starting new subjects, members can communicate with each other through personal messages if they wish. And once members have made a certain number of posts, they will automatically be admitted to the "frequent posters club", where subjects not-for-public-domain are discussed; anything from the occasional rant to meetups we may be having ...

 
Pages: [1] 2
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.2 | SMF © 2006-2007, Simple Machines LLC Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!
This forum is provided by a customer of Great Western Railway (formerly First Great Western), and the views expressed are those of the individual posters concerned. Visit www.gwr.com for the official Great Western Railway website. Please contact the administrators of this site if you feel that the content provided by one of our posters contravenes our posting rules (email link). Forum hosted by Well House Consultants

Jump to top of pageJump to Forum Home Page