CZ/SK verze

Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia: Which Country Faces More Train Derailments?

Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia: Which Country Faces More Train Derailments?
photo: Andy Oleksy / Flickr/Train roulette
13 / 02 / 2024

In Slovakia, 5 trains derailed in 2023. The Czech Republic has sent a message to the Slovak railways to get its house in order in light of last year's Pendolino derailment in Žilina. A ZSSK train derailed in Košice due to a switch being moved under the carriage.

Who is worst off with derailments, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, or Hungary?

In the Czech Republic, trains have traveled approximately 690 million train kilometers in the last four years, accounting for 47 derailments. In Hungary, trains traveled 310 train kilometers, which accounted for 42 derailments, and in Slovakia, approximately 200 million train kilometers were traveled, with 22 derailments. When converted to per 10 million kilometers, the Hungarians were the worst off, with 1.3 derailments, Slovakia came second with 1.1. The Czech Republic had the lowest number of derailments over the past period, with 0.7 derailments.

Jiří Kubáčka, an expert on train transport, said he was not surprised by the result and that the reasons were varied. He explained that the result is mainly due to the state of the infrastructure, plus inattention and sloppiness, such as forgetting to remove stops or switches. He goes on to say that the Czech Republic is experiencing a much greater surge of traffic and the staff are trained and work harder to cope with this. However, that is not all, according to the expert. A Czech CARGO Pendolino derailed in Slovakian Žilina since they were not following the signaling signs. The locomotive of the private Lokorail went off the track at the Bratislava main station and although the cause has not yet been solved, the Association of Railway Carriers does not think that the reason for the accident was infrastructure, but the human factor.

Patrik Benka, the director of the Association, said that the reason for this is that there is a small selection of train drivers, and there are also few schools and courses of study that would train a good train driver. There are huge differences in the performance of Slovak and Czech lines, according to data from the two operators. The Czechs have 2.6 times longer infrastructure and achieve 3.4 times more performance. Kubáčka argues that the Czechs are strategically located between two large economies, i.e., between Germany and Poland. He added that Slovakia, on the other hand, has a disadvantageous location as it lies in the Carpathian Arch, where transit routes are difficult.

As a consequence of the poor infrastructure, trains have to be constantly repaired, which costs Slovakia a lot of money. ZSSK specified that servicing in recent years ranges from tens of thousands to 1.5 million euros. The price depended on the extent of the damage and whether the problem could be repaired in-house or whether an external repairer had to be used.