• What If There Had Been Fire?

  • Discussion about railroad topics everywhere outside of North America.
Discussion about railroad topics everywhere outside of North America.

Moderators: Komachi, David Benton

  by Gilbert B Norman
Over at the Amtrak Forum, there has been much discussion regarding need for US crash rigidity standards. However, those who hold the standards be relaxed might want to review this and think twice:

http://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/world-n ... t-Pictures" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Fair Use:
Emergency services rushed to the scene after a passenger train crashed into a freight train just outside the town of Meerbusch, near Dusseldorf Germany.

Dozens of emergency vehicles arrived on the scene of the terrifying collision.

Firefighters have shared shocking images of the crash on Twitter.

Pictures from the scene show the passenger train upright, but with its locomotive nearly entirely flattened against the rear of the freight wagon.

The front carriage of the National Express train is also buckled in half with its wheels derailed in images shared by the fire department
"Pictures, and video, are worth a thousand words".

While the incident had no loss of life any only five injuries there were 150 passengers trapped and had to be extricated by emergency responders.

What if there had been fire?
  by george matthews
I think electrically powered trains are less likely to catch fire than diesels. Train fires are rather rare.
  by NS3737
Back in the days of (partial) wooden coaches and gas lighting, fire was a real risk after a train collision. Nowadays much less so. The most severe traincrash resulting in a fire in modern history, that I can recall was in Great Britain (Ladbroke Grove 1999) where a DMU crashed into a diesel powered HST. As a result the diesel tank of the HST ruptured with a fire and lots of casualties as a result.

In the case of the accident in Germany the goods train was an empty ore train destined for the Rotterdam Harbor, not much that can burn there.

As far as trapped in this case, it was not about passengers that had to be pried out the wreckage by the fire brigade. But about loose catenary wires that had to be switched off and secured before the passengers were able to get out of the train safely. Mind you the catenary in Germany is powered with 15kV 16,7 Hz.

The increase in structural strenght of passener cars (road vehicles) though, has presented firebrigades with challenges, where standard rescue tools where not up to the task and specialised equipment normaly intended for accidents with trucks had to be brought to the accident site.
  by george matthews
The Paddington approaches are about to be switched on for all trains. The constant smell of diesel at present - only somewhat better than the smell of coal smoke that preceded diesel - will at last diminish when most trains are electric. Until the lines beyond Heathrow are energised only the airport trains have been electric.

I can remember when all the trains at Paddington were powered by coal. The smell and pollution would not be tolerated in today's conditions. It was horrible.
  by DutchRailnut
they are trapped until a certified person can determine that overhead power is off, there was considerate catenary damage.
no one takes chances with 15 Kv overhead.
  by JayBee
The train is required to deform just like a car to protect the passengers as much as possible. When you hit the rear of a standing freight train at significant speed the passenger train is going to stop abruptly, even though the passengers will not.
  by NS3737
JayBee wrote:the passenger train is going to stop abruptly, even though the passengers will not.
Yes, and people getting launched from their seats and personal belongings flying around during the sudden deceleration of a train crash is a considerable cause of injuries like cuts, broken bones and brain damage. And there is also so much G-forces a human being can stand, about 100 G even during a short time span is lethal.

There is limited room for energy absorption in trains, I know the vestibules to get in and out the trains are used for that. I learned of one design example where they were considering to use the kitchen and staff area for that purpose, when train staff got notice of this, there were protests. I do not know whether the design came off the drawing board or not.

The best position during a crash is to travel backwards, unless someone is sitting in the opposite seat who will likely end up in your lap with considerable force. Just wondering if seatbelts in trains can be a feasible option. Personally I would be reluctant to use these in a train, while the first thing I do when I get into a car is to buckle up.

Off course preventing train crashes is still the best solution.
  by David Benton
It does appear the carriage has buckled at the centre vestibule. Possibly more in this one area than designed.
Crash management is a tricky business, crumpling is only going to reduce the impact of a sudden halt by so much. Bu t i would still rather be in a lightweight carriage, with crash management, than in a heavyweight carriage with none. Less likely to need a trip to the Chiropractor.
Does anyone know how fast the train was travelling?
  by David Benton
Regarding fire and shock hazards, an accident like this does pose hazards. In a bad crash , the catenary is likely to come down, directly touching the earthed rails or poles , and more than likely trip the circuit breakers . (it would still need to confirm the power is off before approaching though). In an accident such as this one, the catenary may be largely intact, perhaps only lightly touching the train body , or even just mm's away from it . This won't cause a large enough short to trip the circuit breakers , but can make the train , track, and even earth around it live with a lethal voltage. The potential voltage difference between your legs stride on the ground, can be enough to kill you.
This is why linesmen will "hop" to a power pole , if they suspect a earth fault. only one foot on the ground you wont get a shock. Likewise , if you are ever in an accident involving power lines in a car or train , either stay where you are , or if you need to leave, dont touch anything (including other people) and hop away from the scene . If you do put 2 feet on the ground , put them as close together as possible.
http://www.sanpatricioelectric.org/cont ... icity-pole" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3hF5jHl48-U" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Just presenting this as information a lot of people are not aware of. Including me until a safety course last year .