Several hurt as two Swiss trains derail in quick succession

Geneva: Several people have been injured, at least one seriously, in two separate train derailments that happened in quick succession Friday in bad weather in northwestern Switzerland, police said.

The incidents took place about 30 kilometres apart, north of the Swiss capital Bern, and rescue operations are still ongoing.

“There are injuries in both trains,” a Bern cantonal police spokeswoman told AFP.

The first incident happened in the lakeside village of Luscherz, northwest of the capital Bern, at around 4:30 pm (1430 GMT), police said. The train was travelling between Luscherz and Bienne.

“A train derailed. The rear part of the train fell on the right side,” a Bern cantonal police spokeswoman told AFP.

“There are several injured,” she said, without being able to give more details on the condition of those involved.

“Rescue interventions — police, ambulance and firefighters — are still in progress,” she added.

Police do not yet know why the train derailed.

Regional rail operator Aare Seeland Mobil said that services were cancelled on the line due to “a derailment caused by a storm”, with the duration of the disruption “unknown”.

– ‘One seriously injured’ –

The second incident took place around 20 minutes later in the village of Buren zum Hof.

The RBS regional rail operator said some services had been suspended “as a result of the storm”.

A spokeswoman said the accident could have been due to the high winds but “it’s not clear”.

Bern police tweeted that in Buren zum Hof, “there is currently an operation due to a derailed RBS train. There are several injured, including at least one seriously injured person.”

The MeteoSwiss national weather service said that gusts of more than 90 kilometres (55 miles) per hour had been recorded in Switzerland on Friday.

“This wet and windy situation is associated with the Mathis depression circulating over northern Europe,” it said, generating “stormy winds over part of Europe including Switzerland.

“The strongest gusts are generally associated with showers and thunderstorms.”

– Picturesque routes –

Switzerland is renowned for its extensive and punctual rail network, with frequent services between cities, towns and even villages.

Rail enthusiasts come from all over the world to ride on some of the most picturesque routes, or those with exceptionally steep climbs.

Recent figures from the Swiss Federal Statistical Office show that in 2021, excluding suicides, eight people lost their lives in Swiss rail accidents and 47 were seriously injured. Most of those hurt were on the tracks.

There were 88 separate accidents, of which 53 resulted in serious injury.

“Overall, the number of victims of rail accidents has fallen significantly in recent decades, despite an increase in transport services,” the office says.

According to the Swiss National Museum, the deadliest disaster in Swiss rail history occurred in June 1891 when a railway bridge collapsed under the weight of a packed train.

Seventy-three people were killed in the disaster and more than 150 were injured.

The bridge was built by the famous French civil engineer Gustave Eiffel.

In September 1982, in Pfaffikon near Zurich, a train hit a bus on a level crossing after the traffic barrier failed to lower.

Thirty-nine people died in the crash and only two bus passengers survived the disaster.

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