April 14. 2024. 6:20

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Romanian transport minister urges railway inspections following accident

The deadly railway accident in Galati, Romania, was caused by technical failure, according to transport officials, with Transport Minister Sorin Grindeanu urging the national railway company to start technical inspections.

A locomotive rammed into a passenger train it was about to pull, which left one passenger dead and three others injured.

According to transport officials, the fatal accident was caused by technical failure – most likely, the locomotive stopped responding to mechanical commands. The train was supposed to enter the station at a maximum speed of 10 kilometres per hour, but it was at least 30.

“This was a technical problem. The locomotive had problems. Many locomotives have problems,” said Rodrigo Maxim, the national railway company union leader.

On Sunday, Transport Minister Sorin Grindeanu asked the national railway company “to urgently start a technical inspection of the railway rolling stock in use,” as well as the “re-examination of all locomotive drivers from April.” Following the accident, all locomotives of the type involved in the accident in Galati are to be checked.

This is the second railway accident in Romania in less than two weeks.

On 13 March, a train from the national railway company hit a freight train carrying cars at a station in Teleorman. The violent impact caused the derailment of the freight’s last three wagons, resulting in 12 people getting injured. The locomotive engineer was found to be at fault as he overshot the signal on the red light and entered the station on the same line as the freight train.

The poor state of the Romanian railways is well known.

They are too old, and very few are electrified to allow trains to run at speeds over 100 kilometres per hour. The national railway company does not have enough modern trains to maintain constant speeds of 160 km/h, the standard for railway trains in Europe.

Romania has recently pledged to modernise its railway lines and committed to pouring about €2.6 billion in EU recovery plan funding to build a line that spans more than 300 kilometres.

(Oana-Carmen Zamfir | EURACTIV.com)