Missed red light probably caused Utrecht train near-miss

Rail safety experts are investigating a near accident between two trains close to Utrecht station on Wednesday after a commuter train appeared to miss a red light.

The emergency breaking system stopped the train as it headed for a track service train coming from the opposite direction, transport minister Melanie Schultz told MPs. The accident disrupted services around the station for over an hour while repairs to the track were carried out.
The incident bore ‘many similarities’ to Saturday’s crash in Amsterdam in which one woman died and dozens were injured, the minister said. Eight people remain in hospital after the head-on collision. The crash was caused by the driver of a commuter train hitting an intercity after apparently jumping a red light.
Emergency system
The stretch of track where the Amsterdam crash happened had not been fitted with improved emergency breaking systems which stop trains travelling below 40 kph if they go through a red light. It is not clear what the situation in Utrecht is.
Since 2006, the NS and ProRail have installed an improved version of their original safety system on over 1,200 signals. The Dutch railway network has 6,000 signals, but Schultz said in November 2011 she is not planning to roll out the upgrade across the whole country.
The FNV rail workers’ union said on Thursday it would take industrial action unless the minister immediately committed herself to track improvements. Saturday’s crash and other incidents are unacceptable for travellers, the railway sector and its workers, a spokesman told Nos radio.
Last year, there were 157 instances in which trains went through red lights.

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