Fatal accident on Rhine Valley railway after bridge collapse

In Germany a freight train collided with a concrete part of a bridge on a construction site on Thursday evening. The structure had fallen on the railway track in Augen shortly before. One person has been reported dead and three others injured, according to local police. The railway line is heavily damaged and unavailable for traffic.

This was reported by the German news site SWR. The bridge is part of the Rhine Valley Railway near Müllheim in southern Baden. The freight train, operated by the Swiss company BLS, was on the way from Freiburg to Italy and was driving on the so-called rolling road (ROLA), a railway stretch were trucks are loaded onto rails to cover the long distance across the Alps.

The person who died was the train driver, a 51-year old male. “Part of the bridge fell, so that the train could not brake its speed and collided with the bridge,” police spokeswoman was cited. Some of the trucks on the train were crushed. However, the truck drivers sat in their own wagon at the time of the accident. Three of them were slightly injured.

Closed until Wednesday

The route between Freiburg and Basel will remain closed until at least Wednesday, 8 April 11.59 pm, according the the Rhine-Alpine Corridor management. The tracks and catenary are seriously damaged. “Railway undertakings are currently looking into alternative routes via Singen/Brenner. The crisis organisation is operational”, it reports.

On the morning of 3 April, forty trains were stranded in Germany, four in the Netherlands and four in Belgium. “Once the re-routing is defined, those trains can start again. A coordination via the Park or Run tool is activated”, it says, adding that it is taking over corridor coordination to handle the anticipated crisis.

Rhine Valley Railway

In this part of ​​the Rhine Valley Railway, the route is currently being expanded to four lanes. The bridge under construction is a replacement of the existing structure. The concrete part that came lose was from this existing bridge. The actual disassembly was planned for the night from Saturday to Sunday.

It was also on the Rhine Valley Railwat where the Rastatt incident took place in August 2017. The railway section between Basel and Karlsruhe was closed for seven weeks back then. The positive point is that this accident led to a crisis management plan, which can now be tested.

Author: Majorie van Leijen

Majorie van Leijen is the editor-in-chief of RailFreight.com, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

4 comments op “Fatal accident on Rhine Valley railway after bridge collapse”

Theo Van Riet|03.04.20|11:11


Even nazien, het stuk waar de vrachtwagens op de trein geladen worden lag al kilometers achter hem. Ik denk dat u bedoelt : where trucks are transported on railcars.

Bert van Lunteren|03.04.20|11:43

If something feel off the viaduct the catenary would have been interrupted. So either some part of the construction fell sideways on the track without damaging the catenary and without breaking the track ( in which case the track current would be interrupted; at least I presume that on such a major line in Germany there are track circuits). or, as the header of the article seems to imply, the train first derailed and then hit the viaduct. This would be like the Eschede incident in 1998.

Arco Sierts|03.04.20|18:56

@ Bert: nope. The construction collapsed just before the train arrived at the scene, according to a police spokesman, so the train driver had no possibility to do whatever. Source: german media. I assume that the german transportation safety board will investigate this accident, because this collapse is completely unacceptable. Serious errors must have been made.

Florian Ellebrecht|07.06.20|21:48

I just found this article and I was in training on this railway, so there is a mistake I can’t ignore. The place where the accident took place is called Auggen (two “g”s).

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