25 September 2010

Three landslide-induced railway incidents in a single day

Posted by Dave Petley

News today of three different incidents from around the world:
1. New Zealand
NZ Herald reports that a milk train hit a landslide in Manawatu Gorge.  Fortunately there were no injuries, or even a need to cry over spilt milk…

2. India
Bangalore Mirror reports that three coaches of the Thiruvananthapuram-Mangalore Express train were buried by a landslide in a narrow cutting at Mulunthurthy.  Three people were injured, plus there were some minor injuries during the evacuation.

3. Canada
Various Canadian newspapers report that there was a serious landslide-induced derailment of a freight train at St-Lazare in western Quebec.  The accident trapped the injured train crew in their cab, requiring that they were rescued by firefighters.  Heavy rainfall was reported to be the trigger.  The images of the site, from the Montreal Gazette, are impressive:

Landslides represent  an important risk to railways in upland areas, and where extensive earthworks have been used.  Railway companies expend huge amounts of resource mitigating the threat, usually with success.  Incidents are quite rare, but previous examples described on this site include:
May 2010: 19 killed when a train struck a landslide in China;
April 2010: Nine people killed when a train was struck by a landslide in northern Italy;
July 2009: Four people killed when a train struck a landslide from a cutting in China;
Dec 2008: A train was struck by a flowslide formed from power station ash in Tennessee, USA;