C8/2003R Pendolino train derailing at Karjaa, Finland, on 25 July 2003

On Friday July 25, 2003, at 14.17 hrs, at about 3.5 kilometers from Karjaa station towards Helsinki, a train incident took place when a Pendolino train, designed for intercity services, derailed. The train was travelling from Helsinki to Turku with about 150 passengers.

The train left Helsinki at 13.09 and travelled quite regularly toward Karjaa with intermediary stops at Pasila and Espoo. On this particular section of line the running of the trains is controlled by Helsinki Traffic Control Center. The automatic remote control in fact started to secure the route for the train, that is to Karjaa track 3, but as due to a defect in the V101 turnout concerned, the securing failed. The remote control operator tried to activate the turnout by operating several turning commands, but in vain. The remote control operator then asked some mechanics of the points and switches team at Karjaa to check the turnout on-site. By this time the Pendolino train had stopped at the Karjaa entry main signal that displayed a ”stop” aspect, that is, a red aspect, as a result of the problems in the turnout.

Two mechanics of the points and switches team soon arrived at the turnout, and by using the local turnout-operation button by the turnout blades, they operated the turnout three times. The turnout blades seemed to turn normally; however the fault indicator still displayed a fault in the turnout. The mechanics agreed over the phone with the remote control operator that they will operate the turnout to a position opening toward track three; moreover by using mechanical blade locks, they secured the turnout as remaining in the correct position. Thereupon the intention was to let two trains pass through the turnout and then continue the investigation of the fault in the turnout. The mechanics having announced that the trains may now be given permission to pass through the turnout, the remote control operator gave the driver of the Pendolino train permission to pass the main signal displaying a red aspect and to continue to track 3.

The Pendolino driver followed the instructions given by the remote control operator and drove to the turnout referred to, at a speed somewhat lower than the 50 km/h permitted in passing a red signal aspect. The train passed through the turnout blades quite normally but at a distance of about 90 meters from the turnout blades, the turning point of the turnout frog irregularly displayed a position opening toward track 2. The train derailed at the turnout point and continued to travel almost a hundred meters on the side of the track. Of the six cars of the train, the three first ones derailed completely and of the fourth car, the front bogie derailed. No personal injury resulted from the incident. The material damage and loss amounted to about three million euros.

The chain of events was generated most probably by a mechanical fault in the V101 turnout. The signalling equipment displayed an appropriate and impeccable functioning. The equipment indicated a detected fault and prevented the securing of a route through the turnout in question. As is the practice in turnout fault situations, the remote control operator asked mechanics to investigate the defect on-site. This particular turnout differed from the majority of the turnout types used, in that its frog had a turning point. In fact the mechanics failed to check and ensure the position of the turning point of the turnout frog.

The Accident Investigation Board of Finland does not elaborate new safety recommendations on the basis of this derailment, as the knowledge on the circumstances and events having resulted in the incident, already as such minimizes the eventuality of a recurrence of the incident.

C8/2003R Report (pdf, 0.5 Mt)

Published 25.7.2003