Investigation finds Pendolino driver in fatal Czech crash was intoxicated

The driver, who died in the crash, consumed enough alcohol to be impaired and left the station without a signal. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 19.06.2023 10:30:00 (updated on 19.06.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

The driver of a Pendolino train that crashed near the Czech and Polish border in June 2022 had an amount of alcohol in his blood corresponding to moderate drunkenness. He did not take a breath test before starting his shift, despite arriving late for work. The failure to test the driver was found to be a contributing factor to the accident.

The Pendolino driver died in the accident, and four workers on the cargo train that was hit and one railway worker on the Pendolino had minor injuries. None of the 16 passengers on the Pendolino were hurt.

The Railway Inspectorate completed its investigation into the accident between a high-speed Pendolino train and a freight train that occurred last June 27 in Bohumín, Moravia-Silesia region. The damage amounted to CZK 280 million. Czech Railways (ČD) decided not to repair the damaged Pendolino unit and instead use it for spare parts.

The accident occurred on June 27, 2022, at 5:03 a.m. The driver started the train without a departure signal, and the collision with the stationary freight locomotive happened less than a minute after that. The Pendolino was traveling at a speed of 57 km/h at the time.

The report said the driver, after arriving from Prague to Bohumín, consumed alcohol and was in “a state of moderate intoxication.” This condition results in a clear decrease in attention and a significant slowing down of physical performance.

While the Pendolino was usually ready to depart at 4:30 a.m., it did not appear at the platform until 4:57 a.m., two minutes before the regular train departure time.

A train engineer in Bohumín testified that the deceased train driver had a history of being late. Staff who worked with him in Prague said that he seemed to be conscientious. According to the passengers, the Pendolino did not brake before the collision, which was confirmed by the data recorded by the registration speedometer.

The report drew attention to the fundamental misconduct of the Czech Railways as well, which has an internal directive that if the train driver gets on board late, he must take a breath test for the presence of alcohol, but this did not take place. ČD only discovered the Pendolino train driver's late start based on a notification from the Railway Administration dispatcher at 4:47 a.m.

The railway inspection also addressed the conditions at the boarding house in Bohumín. Train drivers often criticize the state of the dormitory. The internal facilities did not meet current accommodation standards, the inspectors said. They drew attention to the high temperature in the room, but it was only after this event that ČD equipped the room with mobile air conditioning.

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