Pendolino engine blows up at full speed on main line
Oncoming train’s driver saw high-speed locomotive's parts falling off
The propulsion unit of a high-speed Pendolino train blew up near Iittala in Hämeenlinna on Thursday morning, causing the train to come to an abrupt halt.
Because of the mishap, train traffic on the main line was at a standstill for an hour. Nobody was hurt in the incident.
The engine of one of the carriages of the Pendolino express train from Helsinki to Oulu broke down at full speed at around 11 a.m. According to the Finnish rail operator VR, the engine overheated quickly and started smoking.
The driver of an oncoming train saw that some parts had come loose from the Pendolino and informed the Pendolino driver of the problem. After the train had stopped, the broken engine started billowing smoke.
“What caused the engine to break down will be ascertained later”, says VR safety director Yrjö Poutiainen.
The train was stopped near Iittala, and at first the passengers from the defective carriage were moved to the remaining carriages.
The passengers were able to continue their journey in about an hour onboard other trains. What added to the passengers’ waiting time was the fact that power was switched off from the overhead power lines as a precautionary measure.
“According to the train staff, the passengers remained calm the whole time. At no time was anybody’s safety at risk”, Poutiainen says.
The incident carried the risk of a major accident. Fortunately the location where the failure took place was near a populated area. The rescue department’s vehicles were able to get right next to the train.
The train personnel commenced the extinguishing of the fire and firemen finished the job.
Yrjö Poutiainen characterises this type of engine blow-out as utterly exceptional. “Nothing like this has ever happened before”, he said, although VR will probably acknowledge that the Italian-designed Pendolino units have had their share of problems and reliability issues since they were introduced in the mid-1990s.
Both tracks resumed operation late in the afternoon.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Allegro high-speed train to be tested on Kerava-Lahti line (27.4.2010)