Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Bari, Italy, Head-on Train Crash


Accidents will happen, but after nearly two hundred years of experience of rail safety, head-on crashes on single track should never be one of them. A large number of people have been killed or injured (at least 12 killed and many more injured) by one such, in the 'Heel of Italy, near Bari. (See map) It happened in good weather at 11:30 local time (09:30 GMT) in the southern region of Apulia. The line is managed by Ferrotramviaria. 

AP now reports: "President of the southern Italian province where train crash occurred says death toll is now 20."

AP also reports Ferrotramviaria director general Massimo Nitti saying,  "The details of what went wrong are still to be determined,"  adding that, "It is clear one of the trains wasn't supposed to be there at the same time as the other.'"!

On its Facebook page it has this announcement in translation: 
Movement of trains stopped in sudden corato - Andria, established replacement bus service
The movement of trains is currently stopped in sudden corato - Andria, in the meantime, there has been a replacement bus service in from corato to Andria and Andria in corato, are possible disturbances in the movement."

One Facebook member added this comment:
 Carmela Mastrangelo avete postato la notizia come se si trattasse del furto dei cavi della scorsa notte.... !!!!! decine di famiglie distrutte da una tragedia apocalittica!!! Riposate in pace ...anime di Dio ...

Have you posted the news as if it were the theft of cables of last night.... !!!!! Dozens of families torn apart by a tragedy apocalyptic!!! Rest in peace... Souls of God..

Rather strangely, it appears only the previous week, Bari was host to an international conference to discuss transportation issues. One question arises if any of the delegates were on the doomed trains, or had previously travelled on them? The following is an extract of the formal announcement on the same Facebook page:

"It will be ‪#‎bari‬, one of the most dynamic business and the south of Italy, to host the international conference on ‪#‎ASSTRA‬ TARIFF SYSTEM OF‪#‎TPL‬ (local public transport) organized in collaboration with Asstra‪#‎Puglia‬ and the ‪#‎uitp‬, the International Association of public transport.
Appointment on Thursday 7 and Friday 8 July at the mercure hotel villa romanazzi carducci, starting from 9,30. provided for the participation of operators from all the continents.

The first day is focused on the international comparison with a rich program of speeches; the second day, a study on the evolution of the asstra tariffs in Italy and a search of the isfort that addresses the issue of fare from a socio-Economic Angle, will the dozer Political debate of the round table with which will end the conference.
The 7th of July is scheduled the simultaneous translation of the speeches from English to Italian and vice versa. The day July 8, the work will take place only in Italian language."


'Russia Today' states: "Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has called the devastating train crash “a moment of tears” and pledged not to rest until the cause of the crash is determined. Renzi had been on a visit to the Museum of Science and Technology in Milan, where he addressed the families of the victims of the rail disaster, adding that he would return to Rome immediately.

"Addressed the families of the victims" raises the question, if accurate, how they came to be there at an obviously pre-arranged event in the north of Italy and many miles distant from, and immediately after, the accident?


It rather reminds me of another that took place recently at Bad Aibling in Germany, that raised predictable questions.  I am not sure have been adequately answered. I discussed it here:


In this age of advanced technology, what is a simple and basic precaution, that you never allow two trains to travel in opposite directions on a single track, appears to be becoming increasingly difficult to achieve.

The BBC report here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-36774059

The questions to be asked are:

1. How was it possible two trains could be on a single track at the same time, going in opposite directions?
2. What precautions and safety measures were in place to prevent this happening and why didn't they work?
3. The facts speak for themselves that they could not have been sufficient, so what additional measures are nececessary to positively prevent it happening again?
4. Where else in Italy (and the rest of Europe) are similar events possible by virtue of inadequate safety measures?
5. Were there any suspicious circumstances or evidence of intentional neglect or reckless behaviour?
6. Were, on what appears to be relatively straight and unobstructed track, attempts made to warn the drivers or the drivers themselves to avoid the crash?
7. Was the crash in any way connected to the international conference only four days previous or issues of finance addressed at it, or of wider international relationships?
8. How if reliable, was the Prime Minister able in Milan to "address the families of the victims" immediately after the event - unless this is misleading statement down to translation, and the families were not physically present?
9. Had the recent events at Bad Aibling been studied and any lessons learned and applied to this particular section of track?

UPDATE 13.7.2016

Death-toll now 27. "Antiquated alert system. Human error."

From: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-36781217

"The investigation into Tuesday's head-on train crash in southern Italy that killed 27 people is focusing on the antiquated alert system on the line.

They are looking into one of the black boxes recovered at the scene of the collision, on a remote single-track line north of the city of Bari.

The system relied on telephone calls and "human error" remains the main line of inquiry, reports say.

Dozens of rescue workers are still searching the wreckage.

The inquiry is focusing on the lack of automatic signalling system on a small part of the Italian railway network.

The stretch of track between the towns of Andria and Corato in the southern region of Apulia where the crash happened did not have an automatic alert or brake system.

It relies on station masters phoning one another to advise of trains running on the single track.

"Surely one of the two trains shouldn't have been there," railway police Cdr Giancarlo Conticchio is quoted as saying by the Associated Press news agency.

"And surely there was an error. We need to determine the cause of the error," Mr Conticchio said."

Map of crash site

Some interesting international timings here:

One week before:

From: https://www.rt.com/news/350797-italian-intelligence-syria-assad/#.V4X6yM4KUaM.facebook 
Published time: 12 Jul, 2016 14:43

Italian intelligence chief visits Syria, discusses counterterrorism cooperation with Assad – report

"Italy’s intelligence chief has reportedly visited Syria, where he met with President Bashar Assad and discussed counter-terrorism cooperation. Damascus is allegedly offering data on European jihadists in exchange for normalization of diplomatic relations.

Alberto Manenti’s visit to Syria went unannounced last week, just as the visit of his Syrian counterpart, Deeb Zeitoun, to Rome had a week before, Dubai newspaper Gulf News reported.

This behind-the-scenes exchange of visits of intelligence chiefs became the first official contact between high-level Syrian and EU officials since 2011."

From: http: //www.express.co.uk/news/world/687476/Egypt-Italy-thousands-migrants-EU-murdered-student-Giulio-Regeni

Egypt threatens to let hundreds of thousands of migrants into EU as row with Italy erupts

"More than 70,000 migrants have travelled from Egypt and Libya to Italy so far this year, but now the North African country is threatening to do nothing to stem the flow – prompting fears countless more could enter Europe in the coming months.
The flare-up in relations comes after Italian politicians voted to stop supplying Egypt with spare parts for F-16 fighter jets after the North African nation failed to investigate the death of an Italian student in Cairo."


  1. Hardly an explanation amidst ten years of EU related delays and possible corruption?
    "Meanwhile a stationmaster has accepted some of the blame for the rail accident.

    “I made the train leave, I raised the signal,” Vito Piccarreta, stationmaster of Andria, told Italian media. “There was some confusion, the trains were late. But I am not the only one to blame.”

    Alessio Porcelli, stationmaster in the nearby town of Corato, and Mr Piccarreta have both been suspended and both are under investigation over the fatal crash.

    Mr Piccarreta, who has worked for the private Bari Nord network owned by Ferrotramviaria for 24 years, allowed a train onto the single track instead of waiting for two trains to arrive from there, prosecutors said."

  2. From: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jul/14/italy-train-crash-two-station-managers-under-investigation
    "Prosecutor Francesco Giannella said human error was only a part of the story and told La Stampa: “We will absolutely not stop at the obvious elements, at simple solutions. We will look for all the people responsible, including those who are responsible in different ways.”"


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