Model Railroading — Blog Post #4
European Railway Notes August 2016
The mainstream media is quick to report accidents but rarely goes back to inform us about what actually caused the disaster. Back in February 2016, there was an accident in Germany, near Bad Aibling. Two passenger trains crashed head on at speed. Twelve passengers were killed and many more were injured. I wondered if enough time had passed that the cause or causes of this accident had become known.
What had caused both trains to be on the same single track headed towards each other? Perhaps there was some complicated interaction of computerized systems that allowed this to happen? Perhaps a critical hardware or software component had failed? Was this incident caused by a team of hackers from faraway places?
I used Google and searched for “worldwide railway accident reports” and found a listing of railway accidents by country. The latest entry under Germany is for Bad Aibling (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bad_Aibling_rail_accident). As of April 2016, the investigation had found that the train dispatcher was distracted by a game he had been playing on his smart phone. No problems were found with the trains or the signaling system. For all the possible problems that could have occurred, lives were lost because of something that is completely preventable. While nothing can be done for those that died and were injured, we can all remember to not text while driving, or play games while we are controlling any system where lives are at stake.
While I was reading about all of this, I noticed several photos related to the accident. One of the photos shows the emergency engineering train that was involved in the accident response.
One of the railcars in the photo was not something I had ever seen before. After downloading the image and enlarging, I could read from the side of the railcar “Netz Notfalltechnik”. Asking Google to translate this phrase returned “network emergency technology”. Searching for Netz Notfalltechnik and looking at images shows many more types of railcars used for responding to railway emergencies. While looking at all these photos of red railcars, I found a grey tank car that appeared to have a doorway at one end.
I couldn’t make sense of this, so I searched further and found more photos of this tank car. It turns out it is used to train first responders how to deal with tank car accidents. The car has many more valves than a normal tank car. I also found a photo that shows the interior of this car that is used in the training.
This explains what appeared to be a doorway at one end of the car; it really is just that, a doorway.
I have not seen any models of this car, so I decided to search for that as well. I only found one model, from Tillig, in TT scale. I have heard of TT scale before but had to look up that this is 1:120 scale.
To learn more about all things ” Netz Notfalltechnik” I suggest two websites.
First is www.bahndienstwagen-online.de/bahn/BDW/BDW/NOTFALL/ausbildungszug_gefahrgut.html which shows this training tank car in the company of another tank car and a passenger car. There are many more photos of all the valves on the car used for training. Other photos show rail cars being lifted as part of accident recovery.
The second site I found is http://www.angertalbahn.de/kraw/subdata/060321feuerwehr.html which shows photos of the tank cars and various scenes of first responders during their training.
My German is not good enough to allow me to read most of the text of these sites, but I think you will learn a lot just from the photos. You can also use Google, as I did, to translate simple phrases.