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Driver in Amsterdam train crash ‘ignored red signal’

DutchAmsterdam.nl — The driver of one of the trains involved in a crash in Amsterdam last Saturday reportedly ignored a red signal.

Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant says one of its editors was traveling in the first class compartment of the Sprinter, just behind the driver’s cabin.

De Volkskrant reports train driver thinks she missed red signal

De Volkskrant: train driver thinks she missed red signal

Hein Janssen describes in the paper’s Monday edition what happened just after the crash occurred.

“The door of the cabin opens and the driver emerges — a middle-aged woman. She looks around somewhat confused and then suddenly begins to talk. ‘I fear I’ve missed a red signal,’ she says. We are too stunned to answer.”

Netherlands Railways director Bert Meerstadt says he will not respond to this information.

‘We shouldn’t speculate about the causes of this tragedy. This is simply useless. Let’s wait for the final conclusions of the investigation,’ Meerstadt said.

Experts say the signal involved is part of an older system that does not force a train to stop if the signal is ignored.

Amsterdam newspaper Het Parool reports that Melanie Schultz van Haegen, Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment, in a letter to the Tweede Kamer (House of Representatives. literally, Second Chamber) also says the cause of the collision was due to the driver of the Sprinter running a red signal.

Initial findings reported by investigators with the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment state the Sprinter had passed the stop sign.

Further research should reveal whether those preliminary conclusions can be confirmed, the minister said.

Several agencies are investigating the accident, including the Ministry’s inspection service, the Safety Board and the police.

Train Crash

At about 6:30 pm last Saturday the Intercity express train from Den Helder to Nijmegen and the Sprinter commuter train from Amsterdam to Uitgeest frontally collided just west of Amsterdam Central Station.

The crash occured on a busy stretch of tracks where trains generally do not travel at full speed.

De Volkskrant says that since the Intercity was close to the station, and the Sprinter had just left, many people in both trains were standing.

Janssen says in the paper, “Suddenly the train slows sharply and within seconds there was a huge shock. We are thrown from our benches; around us is flying glass; behind us screams.”

“With a bang the train had stopped, and strangely enough everything stood still for a moment: only for a few seconds, as if people had to come to their senses.

“Then follows an avalanche of sound – howling, wailing, screams of terror.”

In total 117 were injured — 42 seriously — with most of the injuries occurring on the Intercity train. An Intercity express train stops at all major train stations, whereas a Sprinter trains stops at all stations.

On Sunday a 68-year-old woman died of her injuries.

The investigation into the accident is on-going.

Meanwhile, train traffic around the city of Amsterdam has returned to its normal schedule.

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This post was last updated: Dec. 9, 2014