In the course of reporting on the Bad Aibling interurban collision, I became involved in an instructive (now closed) discussion on this article, in the course of which a participant cited the normal timetable. The wreck occurred during the morning rush hour.
The 6:37 train from Rosenheim to Holzkirchen arrives Kolbermoor 6:40 and should depart 6:45 AFTER the 6:10 Holzkirchen to Rosenheim train arrives Kolbermoor 6:44.Here's where the failure of the signalling system, whether by accident, or by deliberate error, arises.
The Rosenheim bound train was delayed but unfortunately the Holzkirchen bound train did not wait and departed on time.
Under normal procedure, the Holzkirchen train will not be BEYOND Kolbermoor before 6:45.
Under North American timetable and train order operation, the dispatcher can hold the Rosenheim train at Bad Aibling for the Holzkirchen train. With centralized traffic control, it's even easier. Provided the Rosenheim train has not yet accepted the signal at Bad Aibling, he simply takes away the Bad Aibling to Kolbermoor section, and clears the route from Kolbermoor into an open track at Bad Aibling. The circuitry prevents conflicting routes to be set.
And yet, two trains occupied conflicting routes. Investigators are now alleging human error.
An investigation has now been opened into the actions of the controller who was in charge of the stretch of track in Bad Aibling south-east of Munich on the day of the fatal crash.Authority to run Rosenheim to Bad Aibling laps authority to run Bad Aibling to Rosenheim. Broken trains and dead people. It's a lesson as old as railroading. The Crusty Chief Dispatcher continues to teach it.
If the controller “had acted according to the rules and according to his duty, the collision would not have happened,” lead prosecutor Wolfgang Giese said in press conference held on Tuesday afternoon.
"There is no evidence of technical problems... Our investigation shows that this was human error with catastrophic consequences," he added.