Brétigny-sur-Orge train crash

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Brétigny-sur-Orge train crash
The derailed 4th carriage of the train that crashed at the Brétigny station
The derailed 4th carriage of the train that crashed at the Brétigny station
Date12 July 2013 (2013-07-12)
Time17:11 CEST (UTC+02:00)
LocationBrétigny-sur-Orge, Île-de-France
Coordinates48°36′26″N 2°18′08″E / 48.607316°N 2.302274°E / 48.607316; 2.302274Coordinates: 48°36′26″N 2°18′08″E / 48.607316°N 2.302274°E / 48.607316; 2.302274
Incident typeDerailment
CauseTrack defect

On 12 July 2013, a train crash occurred in the commune of Brétigny-sur-Orge in the southern suburbs of Paris, France, when a passenger train carrying 385 people derailed and hit the station platform. Six people were killed and nearly 200 were injured.[1]

The accident was cited as the most serious rail crash in France since the 1988 Gare de Lyon accident in which 56 people were killed.[2][3]


At 17:11 CEST (15:11 UTC) on 12 July 2013,[4] SNCF Corail Intercités train 3657 from Paris Gare d'Austerlitz to Limoges derailed and crashed at Brétigny station, resulting in the deaths of seven people (three passengers on the train and four on the platform) and injuries to "dozens" more. 385 passengers were on board,[5][6] which occurred a few minutes after the train departed Austerlitz at 16:53.[7] It was scheduled to arrive at Limoges-Bénédictins at 20:05. The trains and platforms at Brétigny were particularly busy as it was the Friday before the Bastille Day holiday weekend.[5]

Reports indicate the train, which was not scheduled to stop, crashed at 137 km/h (85 mph) (below the speed limit of 150 km/h). The last four carriages derailed on a double slip, and the train then broke in two between its fourth and fifth carriages.[6][8] The rear of the train deviated to the left from Track 1 to Track 3 at the following railroad switch. With the fifth and seventh carriages following different tracks, the sixth carriage swept the platform between them for a distance of around 100metres. It was pierced by a roof beam. The fifth carriage first hit the platform on its left and then came to rest along the opposite platform.

Diagram of the derailment


Railway workers immediately took action, preventing, by a few seconds, a collision between the derailed carriages and another approaching from the opposite direction.[9]

According to a police report, some thefts from passengers and throwing of projectiles at rescue workers occurred shortly after the accident.[10][11] The Minister of Transport Frédéric Cuvillier and Interior Minister Manuel Valls described the incidents as "isolated acts" and said the throwing of missiles ceased when the police arrived.[12]


The SNCF, French Land Transport Accident Investigation Bureau (BEA-TT), and judicial authorities started three separate investigations into the accident.[13]

The SNCF released its initial findings on 13 July 2013, reporting that the derailment appeared to have been caused by a track failure. A steel fishplate connecting two rails came loose 200 metres (660 ft) from the station at a set of switches, and became stuck in them. The last axle of the third carriage is thought to be the first to have hit the fishplate.[14]

In January 2019, an SNCF manager who had been supervising track inspections at Brétigny before the crash was charged with homicide.[15]


The 4 bolt fishplate involved in the derailment linked the lower right switch (here open) to the frog (the crossing zone). The inner plate swung around the last bolt and blocked the right frog of the double slip.

Three investigations were initiated, by the Évry public prosecutor, the Land Transport Accident Investigation Bureau (BEA-TT) of the Ministry of Transport, and the SNCF. The train is believed to have derailed on the approach to Brétigny when passing over a switch 200 metres (660 ft) before the station. The French transport minister Frédéric Cuvillier stated that the accident was not due to human error and ruled out[clarification needed] any responsibility on the part of the driver.

At a press conference the day after the accident, an SNCF director stated that the failure of a fishplate (rail joint) was the cause of the accident, confirmed in the third SNCF press conference by supporting photographs. According to Guillaume Pepy, the SNCF president, the fishplate broke away from the rails and became lodged in the middle of the switch, causing the derailment.

Pepy said the SNCF considered itself responsible for the lives of its passengers and announced a campaign to check all similar equipment, nearly 5,000 units throughout the network, whose maintenance is within the SNCF's remit.[clarification needed]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Operations begin to clear wreckage of derailed train near Paris". France 24. 14 July 2013. Retrieved 14 July 2013.
  2. ^ "Un train déraille à Brétigny : au moins 6 morts, Hollande se rend sur place" (in French). TF1. 12 July 2013. Archived from the original on 13 July 2013. Retrieved 12 July 2013.
  3. ^ "Accident de train à Brétigny-sur-Orge : des précédents dramatiques" (in French). Microsoft. p. 6.[dead link]
  4. ^ "Brétigny : la SNCF s'est trompée sur l'heure du déraillement du train". Le Figaro. 24 July 2013.
  5. ^ a b "Deadly French train crash at Bretigny-sur-Orge". BBC News. 12 July 2013.
  6. ^ a b "Packed train derails near Paris, 7 believed dead". AP via the Big Story. 12 July 2013. Archived from the original on 15 July 2013.
  7. ^ "Six morts dans le déraillement d'un train dans l'Essonne". Libération (in French). 12 July 2013. Retrieved 12 July 2013.
  8. ^ Bureau d’Enquêtes sur les Accidents de Transport Terrestre (BEA-TT). "Brétigny-sur-Orge". Les Enquêtes Techniques (in French). Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  9. ^ a b Déraillement mortel de train : une collision évitée”, Libération.
  10. ^ Kovacs, Stéphane; Sallé, Caroline (19 July 2013). "Brétigny-sur-Orge : "T'as trouvé quoi dans les bagages ?"" [Brétigny-sur-Orge: "What did you find in the baggage?"]. Le Figaro (in French).
  11. ^ Borredon, Laurent; Hopquin, Benoît (19 July 2013). "Brétigny : les autorités accusées de minimiser les incidents après l'accident" [Brétigny: The authorities are accused of downplaying incidents after the accident]. Le Monde (in French).
  12. ^ "Brétigny. Un rapport de police confirme les vols et les caillassages après l'accident de train" [Brétigny. A police report confirms thefts and throwing of projectiles after train accident]. La Dépêche (in French). 19 July 2013.
  13. ^ "Loose rail connector 'may have caused' France crash". BBC News. 13 July 2013.
  14. ^ Archived from the original on 16 July 2013. Retrieved 7 August 2013. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  15. ^