Runaway Intercity coaches back on the track after crash in Helsinki
Delays continue for commuters
The four runaway coaches of an InterCity train that crashed into the office wing of the Holiday Inn Hotel at Helsinki’s Central Railway Station on Monday morning have been removed from the building today - Tuesday.
According to the on-duty fire chief, the removal went smoothly and the hotel building withstood the work well, while no structural damage to the building was noticed.
The removal work began in the early hours of Tuesday. A diesel engine was used to pull the coaches away from the building gradually. Before the removal, some scaffolding was required and the floor slab on the building’s second floor had to be supported.
Two coaches were pulled back onto the track and returned to the depot last night. The remaining two still in the vicinity of the accident scene will be transferred to the depot today, the on-duty fire chief estimates.
The cause for Monday’s train accident may have been ice.
Chief Rail Accident Investigator Esko Värttiö from the Accident Investigation Board reports that there was plenty of ice in the lower structures of the train. He is considering whether the ice could have prevented the brakes of the coaches from coming on.
As things stand, more information on the reasons for the accident can be expected in the next few weeks. A final report on the investigations will be completed no sooner than in about a year.
The employees in the office wing of the hotel narrowly escaped the crash.
”Thank God we had such a quiet morning”, said Antti Hakkarainen from the Advisory Services of the accounting firm Ernst & Young, speaking in the frosty weather in front of the Holiday Inn Hotel on Monday.
A dozen or so of the firm’s employees were present. They were all evacuated from the office into which the train crashed moments later.
The office on the second floor - in which they were about to start a meeting just when the accident occurred - was destroyed completely.
All employees were evacuated and most of them moved to the firm’s premises located in Helsinki’s Main Post Office building. Some of them went home where they could do remote work.
Disruptions in rail traffic are expected even today. Delays of 10 to 15 minutes are possible in commuter train services both on the coastal line from Helsinki to Turku and on the main railway line north.
Moreover, not all commuter trains are in service. Several A-, E-, S-, and U-train departures have been cancelled at least until the afternoon. Even Y-trains have been cancelled, but long-distance trains will make additional stops in Siuntio and Inkoo.
In addition, delays of more than two hours at worst can be expected in long-distance train services.
As some of the platforms used by commuter trains are currently closed at Helsinki’s Central Railway Station, there will be fewer departures to the directions of Kirkkonummi and Vantaa for the time being.
Thanks to brisk work by station officials, nobody was injured in the accident early on Monday morning.
The three runaway carriages and a restaurant car were deliberately routed onto an empty track and away from the central platforms, where damage and disruption might have been even greater, for example if the 70-tonne carriages had ploughed into the main station concourse.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Coaches crash into hotel at Helsinki´s Central Railway Station (4.1.2010)
Video footage of the carriage being gradually and successfully extricated from the hotel on Tuesday morning
Accident Investigation Board
Finnish Railways, VR