Badly-attached container caused fatal accident on Great Belt Bridge

Danish accident investigators on Thursday said a train crash on the Great Belt Bridge in January, which killed eight people, was caused by a poorly-attached container.

Badly-attached container caused fatal accident on Great Belt Bridge
Trailers involved in the crash photographed on the Great Belt Bridge on January 2nd. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

The accident, which also injured 16, happened when a container came loose from a cargo train in strong winds and hit a passenger train travelling eastwards on the box-girder bridge section of the crossing.

The Great Belt Bridge connects the islands of Zealand, where Copenhagen is located, and Funen.

“It is likely that the tether (of the container) to the trailer had not been secured like it should,” the country's Accident Investigation Bureau said in a preliminary report published Thursday.

It also found that high winds were strong enough to have dislodged the container.

“The wind was sufficient to overturn the trailer that day. We are relying on other observations such as the sparks and the discovery of detached pieces,” said Bo Haaning, of the accident investigation office, speaking on public television.

The inquiry found that two other containers had not been attached properly and had moved.

READ ALSO: Death toll rises to eight in Danish Great Belt Bridge train accident

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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