Company future?

Doubts about the stability of the axles of its ICE trains, reports about alleged risks of injury on local trains: Deutsche Bahn (DB AG) is currently barely keeping up with denials of weaknesses in its system. Now a damning report from the Kassel Regional Council on the collision between ICE 885 and a flock of sheep in the Landruckentunnel near Fulda.

The conclusion of the nine-page paper, which also scrutinizes the safety of the high-speed Hanover-Wurzburg line: DB AG's disaster management was a disaster. Communication did not work, a DB control center sent the first DB emergency manager to a wrong location, the extent of the accident with 19 injured was partly "downplayed".Even worse: The driver of a DB rescue train was drunk ("not sober"), according to a fire department driver, and a second driver was not able to operate the rescue train's technology. The helpers therefore first had to read company documents. The assessment that the ICE line between Hanover and Wurzburg is not safe is likely to be particularly sensitive for rail management.The ICE was on the evening of 26. In April, the train crashed into a flock of sheep near Fulda, derailed and came to a halt in the eleven-kilometer-long Landruckentunnel. Deutsche Bahn CEO Hartmut Mehdorn later said the company's crisis management had worked excellently. Despite the collision of the train with a flock of sheep, he maintains: "The tunnels are safe."The result of the Kassel report sounds different.DB emergency control centers play a key role in accidents on ICE routes. They are supposed to alert rescue workers and direct them to the scene of the incident. Here, of all places, the report makes out comprehensive failure. It had become apparent that the capacity of these agencies was "very limited". The emergency manager of the DB AG, who is supposed to organize rescue operations, had received wrong operation coordinates and therefore appeared later than possible at the scene of the accident. Important information had not or only insufficiently been passed on to the fire department.The Munich control center of DB AG had "obviously been unaware of the real situation" and "obstructed" the deployment of a rescue train from Wurzburg. According to company guidelines, these special trains are to be deployed "immediately" in the event of a "dangerous operation in the tunnel" of a train. The control center had "downplayed" the extent of the accident. The reason: according to the report, "false information" was apparently used, which was passed on by emergency managers of the Bahn AG who were present at the scene of the accident.The report lists numerous fundamental deficiencies that could be life-threatening for accident victims in the event of an emergency. In an emergency, for example, the fire department would not be able to open the doors to the rescue tunnels of the Landruckentunnel: Deutsche Bahn AG refuses to hand over the keys. The entrances can only be opened from the inside. As a result, people who could not reach the exit under their own power "could not be helped.".The fire department's respiratory protection equipment is not adequate for operations at trackside facilities. It is necessary to provide the fire brigades with special equipment with a longer operating time in the appropriate number. There are no fire water connections at the tunnel entrances. For the important first access the firemen would have only the water from the tanks of their vehicles. This was "not sufficient". Bringing in additional water from greater distances ties up personnel and costs time.The paper goes on to say that the accident "probably could have been avoided" if the rail tunnel had been monitored by camera, as is common in road tunnels.Overall, the rapid and immediate information and alerting of emergency services had been "inadequate," and prevention had not worked. The "constant rearances" of railroad representatives that safety on the Hanover – Wurzburg line is ared have proven to be "incorrect. There was a lack of "urgently required technical equipment that is state of the art today".Against this background, FDP transport expert Horst Friedrich called for "a new security philosophy at the railroads". The federal government does not seem to be aware of the explosive nature of this question. Friedrich: "Although there has been a report request for the transport committee since May, the government only presented a meaningless 'interim report' in June." Green Party politician Winfried Hermann spoke of an "alarming and shocking report". It shows that the railroads are doing too little for safety. It must remedy the deficiencies as soon as possible, train its staff better and improve prevention, he said.

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