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The biggest railway accidents: Viareggio

The biggest railway accidents: Viareggio
photo: Archiv/ViaReggio
19 / 10 / 2020

Viareggio, a picturesque town in Tuscany, will forever be a symbol of the great railway accident. On the fateful day of June 29, 2009, a train derailed and a fire broke out. 32 people died, 26 people were injured.

Freight train number 50325 from Trecate to Gricignano carried 14 tank cars. The first wagon in the train was registered with Polskie Koleje Państwowe, another 13 on the Deutche Bahn. The first of the cars registered on the Deutsche Bahn, owned by GATX, derailed on a straight track at Viareggio station. By hitting the platform, the car overturned to the left. As a result, another 4 cars overturned, which subsequently crashed into houses along the track. The next two wagons derailed but did not overturn. The remaining 7 cars did not derail and remained on the track. Two of the wagons carried LPG. There was an ignition and a fire.

Due to the derailment just before midnight, most of the inhabitants were in their homes. There has been a huge tragedy. The whole street was destroyed by fire and explosions. 1000 people were evacuated. The pressure wave leveled several houses to the ground.

The accident was most likely due to a defect in the wheelsets.

Between 2009 and 2017, 30 people were accused in connection with this tragedy. 20 were convicted. Among them were both technicians and managers. The highest penalties were given to two GATX managers. In addition, the company had to pay a fine of 480 thousand euros. According to the court, the accident could have been caused by neglect in by the technical inspection. As a result, the tank-car derailed and cracked. The director of an Italian company that managed the infrastructure was arrested also. The court sentenced him to 7 years.