Fire in ICE near Cologne: Fire in the ICE triggers critical questions – Panorama

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By Thomas WüpperThomas Wüpper (wüp) Profile October 12, 2018 – 4:55 pm More than 500 passengers had to leave the train on Friday morning due to a fire. Experts praise the rescue operation, but see security risks.
Fire in the ICE on Friday morning: large-scale deployment of the fire department on the Frankfurt-Cologne railway line

Photo: dpa

Cologne – The train is considered a very safe means of transport. However, the two cars of the ICE 501 burnt out on Friday morning and the evacuation of more than 500 passengers on the open track between Siegburg and Montabaur raise critical questions in specialist circles. The authorities are still investigating the causes. Five people were easily injured. The high-speed line Cologne-Frankfurt is currently closed and the train traffic is impaired.

"That was luck in the misfortune", said a locomotive driver of our editorship, which drives for decades even the flagships of the German course AG and wants to remain unnamed. "If the train had to stop in one of the tunnels on the high-speed line, it would have been a catastrophe because of the heavy fire and the massive smoke." The 250 firefighters were also exposed to considerable dangers.
According to previous findings, the fire broke out at the end of the eight-piece ICE 511, which was still at dawn at speed 300 on the way from Cologne to Munich. A federal police officer, who was on board, noted according to the police Koblenz the smoke, pulled the emergency brake and also organized the rapid evacuation.
The passengers were initially cared for in the nearby Dierdorf The ICE was first braked to 160 km / h according to information of the locomotive driver and came to a stop for the rescue workers comparatively easily accessible place. With full braking at 300 km, the braking distance would have been more than four kilometers. The travelers were first cared for in nearby Dierdorf and then taken by bus to the ICE station Montabaur. The fire completely destroyed a car and caused damage to the tracks, catenary and signaling equipment. The Federal Bureau of Railway Accident Investigation (BEU), which intervenes in dangerous events, has started the investigation. Support the authorities, emphasized DB AG, which keeps making headlines with technical problems of its train fleet. Years ago, collapsed occupants had to be rescued from overheated ICE cars because of unusual air conditioning systems. In 2010, the ICE 105 between Montabaur and Limburg lost a door in full swing, which bounced against the oncoming ICE 612. The result: six injured. In 2008 derailed the ICE 518 in Cologne Central Station because of axle break, which had previously also come with a speed of 300 with a broken bike from Frankfurt. In 2001, the powerhouse of an ICE 1 burned at Hanau, the fire was initially not noticed. In 1998 101 people died in the worst accident of an ICE at Eschede. The cause was the breakage of a wheel disc. After these incidents, safety has improved in many areas. The German trains are internationally considered exemplary The German trains are considered in international comparison as exemplary, the new ICE 4 of the DB sets new standards in fire protection. So there are numerous smoke detectors on board, so that the driver can quickly detect dangerous problems. "Unfortunately, such detectors are missing in the previous ICE fleet," criticizes the engine driver. Only in ICE 1 and 2 were some smoke detectors retrofitted after the fire in 2001 in Hesse. The ICE 3 with its distributed drives lacked the detectors and also desirable extinguishing devices at the weak points; These trains have been on the road for almost 20 years, are now very vulnerable and particularly maintenance-intensive for the overburdened DB repair shops. A superheated axlebox could have caused the fire In professional circles, it is believed that an overheated wheel bearing of the ICE car could have triggered the fire. On the ICE 3, the high-performance electric drives, including transformers and oil tanks, are distributed underneath the car floors and are supplied with high voltage, which is pulled out of the overhead lines via the overhead power conductors on the roof of two cars. The rapid spread of the fire and the massive smoke development could also be due to the many plastics that are installed in the train, suspects the train driver, who is himself a trained firefighter. The passenger association Pro Bahn praises the fast and successful evacuation of the ICE. "The most important thing is that no one else has suffered more," said honorary chairman Karl-Peter Naumann to our editors.

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