Police: ‘catalogue of negligence and failure’ led to 2008 Studénka rail crash
A special commission investigating the causes of the 2008 Studénka rail crash has delivered its long-awaited report, with police investigators speaking of a ‘catalogue of negligence and failure’. Eight people died and 91 were injured when an international express train from Poland slammed into a motorway bridge that had collapsed onto the tracks just seconds earlier.
The train was travelling at around 130 kilometres per hour when the driver noticed a motorway bridge starting to buckle and sway about half a kilometre down the line in front of him – he slammed on the emergency brake, but the train was still travelling at 90 km/h when it collided with the collapsed bridge, which was being renovated by construction workers.
Six people – Poles and Czechs - were killed immediately, two more people died later in hospital. Some 91 were injured, making it the Czech Republic's worst train accident for more than a decade.
On Thursday a team of police investigators made public the findings of their 9,000-page report, with the head of the investigation, Jiří Jícha, speaking of ‘an incomprehensible catalogue of negligence and failures’ on the part of the construction firm and their sub-contractors who were manoeuvring the bridge above the tracks.
The police exonerated the conduct of Czech Railways and in particular the train’s driver, whose prompt actions saved his life and most likely the lives of many passengers. He survived the crash by running back into his cab and sheltering behind the train’s engine seconds before the impact.
Police say 10 people – supervisors and workers from the construction firms involved - will be charged with endangering public safety, and could face up to five years in prison. The charges will be filed within one month.