Viareggio train derailment
|Date||29 June 2009|
|Location||Viareggio railway station,
|Rail line||Pisa–La Spezia–Genoa|
|Operator||Ferrovie dello Stato (FS) (locomotive) / GATX (wagons)|
|Type of incident||Derailment|
|Cause||Under investigation, defected axle to be suspected|
|Damage||Areas near railway station seriously damaged by fire and gas explosion|
The Viareggio derailment was the derailment of a freight train and subsequent fire which occurred on 29 June 2009 in a railway station in Viareggio, Lucca, a city in Central Italy's Tuscany region. Twenty-six people were injured, and as of 22 December 2009[update], 32 people were confirmed as having died.
Freight train No. 50325 from Trecate to Gricignano, hauled by Class E655 locomotive E 655 175 with 14 bogie tank wagons was derailed at Viareggio at 23:48 local time (21:48 UTC) on 29 June 2009. Of the 14 wagons, the first wagon was registered by Polskie Koleje Państwowe, the other 13 wagons by Deutsche Bahn (DB) The first DB-registered wagon, No. 338078182106, which was owned by GATX Rail Austria GmbH derailed on plain track in Viareggio station. The wagon hit the platform of the station and overturned to the left. The next four wagons also overturned and the two following were derailed but remained upright. The last seven wagons were not derailed, remaining intact on the track. The derailed wagons crashed into houses alongside the railway line.
Some of the wagons were owned by KVG Kesselwagen, a division of GATX and leased to ExxonMobil and ERG (the owners of the oil refinery where the train left), were reported to have been carrying Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG). Two of these exploded and caught fire. Seven people were reported to have been killed when a house collapsed. An eighth person who was killed was reported to have been riding a scooter on a road adjoining the railway. A child was found carbonised in a car in front of the house where he lived with his parents. It is speculated that his parents put him in the car to save him and then returned to the house to save other two children.
The two members of the train crew suffered minor injuries in the accident. A large area of Viareggio was damaged in the subsequent fires caused by the wagons carrying LPG exploding. Twenty-six people were reported to have been injured in the accident. The accident is the worst rail accident in Italy since the collision between two trains in Murazze di Vado near Bologna on 15 April 1978, which killed 48 people. It was reported that a whole street had been destroyed in the explosion and fire.
A state of emergency was declared by local authorities. Around 1,000 residents of Viareggio were evacuated from their homes as a result of the accident. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi visited Viareggio "to take control of the situation", but he received boos and cries of "go home". Dr Enrico Petri, an eyewitness and local hospital physician, said that 36 people had been taken to Versilia Hospital in Viareggio suffering from 80–90% burns. He compared the aftermath to a terrorist attack. The accident left around 100 people homeless. The accident resulted in the disruption of rail services between Rome and Genoa. Viareggio railway station was partially reopened on 3 July 2009.
The Direzione Generale per le Investigazioni Ferroviarie, a section of Ferrovie dello Stato (FS) opened an investigation into the cause of the accident. Italian police said that the accident may have been caused by damaged tracks or a problem with the brakes on the train. Italian union CGIL is reported to have blamed the decrepit state of the rolling stock, the maintenance of the wagon was the responsibility of GATX. The failure of an axle on the wagon that derailed is being investigated as a possible cause. Italian Transport Minister Altero Matteoli informed the Italian Parliament on 1 July that a defective axle may have caused the accident.
On 29 July 2009, an Extraordinary Network Meeting of the Network of National Safety Authorities was held. It invited members to disseminate information related to problems related to Type A Axles to railway operators, owners and keepers of freight wagons.
- Lac-Mégantic rail disaster – a 2013 derailment of fuel train and subsequent fire and explosions in the core of a Canadian town.
- Nishapur train disaster – a 2004 derailment of a runaway fuel and flammable goods train in Iran, the resulting fire and explosion killed around 300 people.
- Soham rail disaster – a 1944 fire and subsequent explosion of an ammunition train near Soham, England.
- Expansion ratio
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