B1/2001R An engine colliding with a passenger train in Tampere on 2 November, 2001

On Friday November 2nd, 2001 at 18.26 hours, an accident took place on Tampere passenger railway yard: an electric locomotive bumped into the rear of a passenger train about to leave.

The M820 boat express train arrived from the Orivesi direction on track 3 on Tampere passenger railway yard, 18 minutes behind schedule. Pulled by the same electric locomotive, the train was to continue to Turku. Before the continuing of the journey, the locomotive was to be moved over to the other end of the train. Prior to the transfer of the locomotive, a new engine driver arrived and set off on the route assigned and blocked by the signalmen, towards the north end of the yard. Therefrom the locomotive was to run on track 4 to the south end of the railway yard and further to track 3 to then couple with the trainset thereon.

On track 4, the M 427 passenger train stood prepared for leaving in the Orivesi direction. This train was also running late. The driver transferring the locomotive of the M 820 train was driving from the rear cabin of the locomotive, thus viewing track 4 via the mirrors. The locomotive was travelling at a speed of about 35 km/h, which is the maximum speed allowed in shunting operations. According to the driver, he viewed towards track 4 in the curve leading thereto, and saw an unoccupied track. Thereafter he concentrated his attention on the tracksides so as to make sure that there was no-one on the platform or on the yard dangerously approaching the locomotive. The driver failed to see the M 427 train still on track 4, and he bumped into its rear at a speed of 33 km/h.

In the accident 48 persons were injured, with one of them seriously injured. All three coaches of the M 427 train and the colliding locomotive were damaged. The two diesel locomotives of the M 427 train also suffered some slight damage, but they were reintroduced into traffic the following day.

The considerable number of injured persons implied quite an important rescue and medical operation. Generally the injuries were rather mild, and therefore no complications arose, and five medical ambulances and one first-aid ambulance ensured the transportation of all injured persons for a requisite medical attention. But the alarm operation displayed shortcomings, as no fire brigade units were called and even the ambulances were called only at a slow and gradual pace. This luckily did not result in any additional injury or suffering.

The direct cause of the accident was the fact that the engine driver failed to perceive the passenger train on track 4. This again was greatly due to his driving the locomotive from its rear-end cabin wherefrom the visibility towards the travel direction is markedly poorer than from the nose cabin. Furthermore the viewing process may have been distracted by the driver’s braking action over that very short moment when the visibility towards track 4 is at its best. The driver also said that he had looked at the points and switches on the travel route. Moreover the viewing time was scarce as the running speed was relatively high, with consideration of the situation. The driver chose his way of running and used the maximum admissible speed of 35 km/h partly as due to the hurry generated by the late running of the boat express train.

In order to prevent similar accidents, the Accident Investigation Board of Finland reiterates its earlier recommendation on a locomotive as always being driven from its nose cabin. Moreover the Accident Investigation Board proposes that the telephones of the Area Controller be connected to a recording device and that rescue operation resources be alarmed immediately and in sufficient quantities. In view of an investigation of the post-accident events and to develop the rescue operation, the Accident Investigation Board recommends that more attention be paid to the accuracy of the information and data in the accident and alarm reports elaborated by the rescue bodies.

B1/2001R Report (pdf, 0.9 Mt)

  • Recommendation S24
  • Recommendation S156
  • Recommendation S175
  • Recommendation S176
Published 2.11.2001