28 March 2012

Retaining wall failure in Austria and large-scale wash-outs in New Zealand

Posted by Dave Petley

Two recent interesting landslide related news stories to highlight:

A fatal retaining wall failure in Austria

First, thanks to David Bressan via Twitter, for highlighting this one.  Last Tuesday a remarkable retaining wall failure occurred on the A13 Autobahn (motorway) at Schönberg.  A landslide, apparently triggered by snowmelt, overturned a large retaining wall, which fell onto the carriageway.  Unfortunately it fell onto a truck, killing the driver:




Details (in German) and more images can be found here.  This is a really unusual event.  Failures of heavily engineered structures on roads with very high design standards are not common.  I would be interested to hear more details about the causes of this tragic event.

Wash-outs on the Napier to Gisborne rail line

Meanwhile, reader Errolwi highlighted an interesting article about wash-outs on the railway line between Napier and Gisborne in New Zealand, which also occurred last week during heavy rainfall.  There were three such events in a three kilometre stretch:




The article suggests that the line has two to three rail services per week, which suggests that it may well by uneconomic to repair.