15 hurt as two Swiss trains derail in storm

BERN (AFP): Fifteen people were injured Friday when two trains derailed as stormy winds lashed northwestern Switzerland, police said.

The incidents, on regional passenger rail lines, took place within 20 minutes of each other, and about 30 kilometres (18 miles) apart, north of the Swiss capital Bern.

Three people were injured in the first derailment, including the driver, and 12 were hurt in the second, including one person with serious injuries.

Wind speeds of 136 kilometres per hour were recorded nearby.

One train carrying 16 people derailed in the lakeside village of Luscherz at around 4:30 pm (1430 GMT), police said.

“While a strong wind was blowing… the front carriage of the train overturned on the right of the track, slipped down a small embankment for a few metres and finally came to a halt,” Bern cantonal police said in a statement.

“Three people, including the driver in the overturned carriage, were injured, treated by four ambulance teams and taken to hospital.”

The front carriage of the two-carriage train could be seen lying on its right side on the grass verge between a path running alongside the railway line and a field.

Workers in orange workwear and hard hats were at the scene, with a ladder alongside the carriage to help reach the upturned left side. Firefighters helped to get people out.

The rear carriage rolled on down the track for a few metres before coming to a stop.

“An investigation has been opened to determine the circumstances and causes of the accident,” police said.

– Man airlifted to hospital –

A second train carrying 54 passengers derailed 20 minutes later in the village of Buren zum Hof.

Police said the driver’s carriage and two other carriages came off the tracks, with the front carriage hitting a mast. All three ended up on their sides.

Nine adults and three children were injured and taken to hospitals. One man suffered serious injuries and was flown to hospital by helicopter.

“According to current knowledge, the main cause of the accident is the storm,” police said.

“Further investigations are underway into the accident and how it happened.”

– Picturesque routes –

Switzerland is renowned for its extensive and punctual rail network, with frequent services between cities, towns and even villages.

Rail enthusiasts come from all over the world to ride on some of the most picturesque routes, or those with exceptionally steep climbs.

Figures from the Federal Statistical Office show that in 2021 eight people lost their lives in Swiss rail accidents and 47 were seriously injured. Most of those hurt were on the tracks.

There were 88 separate accidents, of which 53 resulted in serious injury.

“Overall, the number of victims of rail accidents has fallen significantly in recent decades, despite an increase in transport services,” the office said.