Passenger train collides with freight train in Tilburg, 6 Mar 2015 (Photo: Safety Board) - Credit: Passenger train collides with freight train in Tilburg, 6 Mar 2015 (Photo: Safety Board)
Thursday, 10 March 2016 - 13:40
Railway firms do little to prevent hazardous materials risks
Railway companies create unnecessary risks when transporting dangerous material by train. Chemical companies also do not live up to their responsibility of making clear agreements with carriers about how to transport hazardous substances safely, according to a report released by the Dutch Safety Board on Thursday. The report follows a small collision between a passenger train and a stationary cargo train in Tilburg on March 6th last year. The collision caused a leak in the rear car of the freight train, which contained combustible and explosive substance butadiene. While this collision had a limited impact, this type of collision can have serious consequences, according to the Safety Board. The freight train was traveling from chemical park Chemelot in Zuid-Limburg to Rotterdam and made a stop in Tilburg for a driver change. When applying, the carrier indicated that the train was shorter than it actually was, with the result that the control center put the train on a too-short sidetrack. This meant that the rear cart was so close to a switch, that the oncoming passenger train's signal remained on red. The passenger train driver did not notice, and crashed into the stationary freight train. Because the passenger train was of an older model, it had no buffers and ended up right against the freight train. The freight train cart was not equipped with overriding security, which is mandatory for carts transporting toxic substances. The study showed that "the impact and the spill could happen because the relevant rail companies for logistical and economic reasons made decisions that go against already implemented security measures." According to the Safety Board, this shows "insufficient risk awareness in rail companies". It is also up to risk companies to make sure rail companies know about the risks involved in carrying hazardous materials. The Safety Board recommends that rail companies do not make decisions regarding operational management of trains that can lead to unnecessary risk. It also recommends that old passenger trains not be used on railway lines on which hazardous substances are transported. The Safety Board finally also advises State Secretary Sharon Dijksma of Infrastructure and Environment to make it mandatory that all freight train carts that may transport hazardous substances, be equipped with overriding security and that the rear cart of a freight train can not contain hazardous substances.