C7/2003R Fourteen Russian freight cars derailing on the section between Hammaslahti and Tikkala on 16 July, 2003

On Wednesday July 16, 2003 at 15.48 hours, a train accident took place on the section between Hammaslahti and Tikkala in Finland: 14 freight cars of a train travelling from Uimaharju toward Niirala derailed. The derailed cars were in the middle of the train, the first one being the 24th car from the locomotive. At the time of the incident the train was running at a speed of 73km/h. No personal injury was generated in the incident, but thirteen Russian timber-carrying cars were damaged as well as ten electric-railway poles and about 400 meters of track. Moreover at the site of the incident, the wooden planking of a level crossing with a farm road was entirely destroyed.

The immediate cause of the incident included the important stress generated in the track as a result of hot weather conditions, and the subsequent heat curve. The relevant incident investigation conducted was unable to specify a particular technical cause for the incapacity of the track structures to endure the generated stress. Actually the relatively advanced age of the track between Hammaslahti and Tikkala and its partly poor condition undoubtedly contributed to the discharging of the stress so as to form a heat curve. The track runs on soft marshland, and its maintenance has therefore proven to be particularly difficult. In this specific case, some railway officials detected the transition that had preceded the heat curve. Unfortunately in spite of the efforts of the engine drivers and the remote control operators, no adequate measures were engaged so as to prevent the incident.

Consequently the Accident Investigation Board of Finland recommends that in view of a prevention of such incidents, the condition of the section between Hammaslahti and Tikkala be improved by implementation of its overall reconstruction or by an adoption and realization of a new track lay-out. In addition, certain improvements in the drawing up of notices of railway technical defects are also recommended to be adopted.

C7/2003R Report (pdf, 0.46 Mt)

•Recommendation S189

•Recommendation S190

Published 16.7.2003