French train derails south of Paris, at least six dead
At least six people died when an express train packed with weekend trippers derailed 25 miles south of Paris
Rescue workers said that dozens of passengers had been trapped, electrocuted or crushed when the Paris Austerlitz to Limoges “Teoz” express partially derailed at high speed in the suburban station of Brétigny-sur-Orge.
The last four carriages of the seven carriage train split from the rest and derailed at crazy angles across other tracks and he station platforms. First images from the scene showed passengers being dragged to safety through the roofs of carriages lying on their sides.
One state railway official said that the crash may have been caused by a signalling or points failure. The express train was reported to have arrived at great speed on the southbound track into a suburban platform rather than on its usual main line track.
Emergency workers said that they feared that least six people had died. Twelve others were gravely injured and 60 less seriously hurt, they said. But a spokesman for the emergency services said that these were provisional figures.
“There are many other passengers still trapped inside the carriages,” a spokesman said.
Some of the dead and injured passengers were said to have been electrocuted by contact with the 25,000 volt overhead power lines. Others had been crushed inside the broken carriages.
Serious railway crashes are very rare on the French state network. No passenger has ever been killed or seriously injured in any crash on a TVG (high speed train) line since they were introduced in France 32 years ago.
The accident happened on a classic, 19th century-built line using the older type of more loosely-coupled express train.
The president of the French state railways (SNCF) Guillaume Pep spoke of a “rail catastrophe. A company spokesman said that it was unclear whether Train Number 3657 had split and then partially derailed or whether a fault in the track had caused the last carriages to derail and divide from the locomotive and leading carriages.
Another official suggested that the train might have derailed because it was directed onto a suburban line, rather than the main line. The newspaper Le Parisien reported that since May there had been problems with the point-work in the track south of the station which restricted the number of lines in use.
There are believed to have been 500 people aboard and up to 350 passengers in the four carriages which de-railed. The accident happened at 5.15 pm Paris time, about 30 minutes after the train left the Gare d’Austerlutz packed with passengers who planned to spend a weekend in the centre of France.
A police spokesman said: “The train arrived at great speed. It separated for reasons still unknown. Part of train carried on its way and the rest tipped on its side on the platform.”
All railway services into and out of the Gare d’Austerlitz were suspended indefinitely last night.
Independent News Service