Great Belt Bridge rail accident caused by collision with objects from freight train: police

The passenger train involved in a fatal rail accident on Wednesday collided with objects that had fallen from a freight train, Funen Police said at a press conference.

Great Belt Bridge rail accident caused by collision with objects from freight train: police
Photo: Michael Bager/Ritzau Scanpix

Objects from a freight train with Carlsberg livery hit an express train travelling eastwards on the western section of the bridge just before 7:35am.

Six people were killed and 16 injured in the crash. None of the injured individuals are considered to be in life-threatening condition, police said at a press conference at 12pm on Wednesday.

“We still do not know exactly what the cause (of the crash) was, but we can confirm that some of the load fell from a freight train, and the (passenger) train then collided with these objects. That caused significant damage to the train,” Funen Police chief superintendent Lars Bræmhøj said.

“We are continuing recovery operations at the scene and that has not been made easier by windy conditions and strong gusts,” Bræmhøj added.

Photo: Michael Bager/Ritzau Scanpix

An investigator with the Danish Maritime Investigation Board (Havarikommissionen, DMIB) told Ritzau that the collision appears to have occurred between the express train and an empty trailer from the freight train.

The trailer is lying across the tracks and may have collided with the passenger train either side- or head-on, DMIB deputy director Bo Haaning told Ritzau.

“You can see out there that there is a trailer which has fallen over or been blown from the freight train and into the InterCity (passenger) train. Whether it hit the train head-on or to the side, we don’t know,” Haaning, an investigator who is at the scene of the accident, said.

“There was an empty lorry trailer on top of a freight trailer which fell off,” Haaning elaborated in comments made to DR.

Haaning added that he was unable to say whether the trailer had caused the accident itself or whether other elements were involved.

He was also unable to comment on the cause of the lorry trailer falling from the freight train.

“We have begun collecting data, but we are in the early phase,” he said.

The freight train was carrying packaging – beer crates and bottles – to be returned to Carlsberg’s brewery in Fredericia, a town on the eastern coast of Jutland close to Funen, Ritzau reports.

“We are in deep, deep shock and are speechless,” Carlsberg head of information Kasper Elbjørn told newspaper Fredericia Dagblad.

DB Cargo, a subsidiary of German rail company Deutsche Bahn, is the operater of the freight train, according to Ritzau.

Road traffic in both directions is now moving at the restricted speed of 50 kilometres per hour, Great Belt Bridge holding company Sund & Bælt wrote on Twitter.

Vehicles sensitive to high winds remain advised to avoid the bridge.

Rail infrastructure administrator Banedanmark tweeted that no trains would travel across the Great Belt Bridge during the rest of Wednesday.

The Great Belt fixed link consists of a road suspension bridge and a railway tunnel between Zealand and the small island of Sprogø, and a bridge for both road and rail traffic between Sprogø and Funen.

READ ALSO: Six dead in train crash on Denmark's Great Belt Fixed Link


Car drivers overcharged for crossing Denmark’s Great Belt Bridge

Drivers of small cars may have overpaid in tolls when crossing the Great Belt Bridge. The bridge's toll operator has urged customers to check billing information.

Car drivers overcharged for crossing Denmark's Great Belt Bridge
Photo: Ida Guldbæk Arentsen/Ritzau Scanpix

Operating company Sund & Bælt has encouraged customers to get in touch if they have paid too much to cross the bridge, which connects Zealand with Funen.

The problem, first reported by Fyens Stiftstidende, stems from number plate recognition or used of the BroBizz payment tag.

Payment equipment has in some cases incorrectly registered the size of some vehicles using these payment forms.

The issue first began occurring in December following the replacement of parts in the toll booths.

“We started in September and were finished close to a week before Christmas, changing the entire motor in the payment machine,” operations manager Palle Nygaard told Fyens.

“So there have clearly been a few teething problems, and one of those is that we not have classified (vehicles) quite as well as usual,” he added.

The exact number of incorrect classifications was unclear, but “a couple of percent each day out of 35,000 ends up being a fair few”, Nygaard said.

The Sund & Bælt operations manager told DR that “particularly, customers with very small cars have been charged a higher price than they are used to”.

A single journey in a private car of up to 3 metres in length should cost a toll of 130 kroner, while the toll for a car of 3-6 metres’ length is 245 kroner.

Customers who think they may have been overcharged can check the invoices or receipts they receive, for example via email for BroBizz users.

These will show the category for which tolls were charged.

“You should contact customer service (for a refund) if you find you have paid a different amount than you are used to,” Nygaard told DR.

“If you pay by card (at the bridge) and see that the price is wrong, you can press ‘help’ and get the problem fixed,” he added.

The company expects to fix the issue during the first quarter of 2020.

READ ALSO: New laws: Here's what changes in Denmark in 2020