The Anonymous Widower

Garmisch-Partenkirchen Train Derailment

The Garmisch-Partenkirchen train derailment, which took place a few days ago, seems a strange one to me.

A push-pull train of five Bombardier double-deck carriages being pushed by a Class 111 locomotive derailed on a single-track line.

This map from OpenRailwayMap shows the are of the derailment.


  1. The derailment took place between Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Farchant.
  2. The train was heading North.
  3. The accident happened close to the junction of the B2 and B23 roads.
  4. The speed limit through the area would appear to be between 100 and 110 kph.

This Google Map shows the area in detail.

Note the railway curving to the left.

As an engineer, I used to be worried, where a heavy powerful locomotive pushed a rake of coaches at a high speed.

But then I had a long talk with a British Rail engineer, with whom I was working on the analysis of signal failures. He put my worries to rest.

In recent years in the UK, we have had four services, where a heavy, powerful locomotive runs a service in a push-pull mode, with a driving van trailer (DVT) at the other end of the train.

  • Chiltern Railways – Marylebone and Birmingham.
  • East Coast Main Line – London and Leeds and Edinburgh.
  • Great Eastern – London and Norwich.
  • TransPennine – Across the Pennines.

There has only been two serious accidents on these services.

Strangely, the same locomotive was involved in both crashes. It was pulling at Hatfield, but pushing at Selby.

It should also be noted that prior to the introduction of the driving van trailer, a less sophisticated control car calla a Driving Brake Standard Open (DBSO) was used.

  • They were converted from Mark 2 coaches.
  • Some are still in services with Network Rail.

One was destroyed in the Polmont rail accident, where an Edinburgh to Glasgow train struck a cow.

In a section entitled Background in its entry for the Polmont rail accident, Wikipedia says this.

Glasgow Queen Street and Edinburgh Waverley were operated by the push-pull technique with a single British Rail Class 47 locomotive located at one end of the train at all times (the locomotive usually pulled the carriages from Glasgow to Edinburgh and pushed them on the return journey). At the other end of the train was a Driving Brake Standard Open (DBSO). DBSO carriages were introduced on the line in 1980 and consisted of a passenger carriage with a control cab at the front for the driver; a DBSO would be situated at the front of the train allowing the driver to control the locomotive with a set of remote controls from which control signals were sent through the lighting circuits of the train to the locomotive pushing from behind. This system meant that the train could continuously run between the two cities without having to allow time to switch the locomotive to the front of the train between departures. However, it left the front of the train vulnerable when being pushed from behind because the front end was lighter than the rear and had the risk of being pushed over an obstruction, leading to derailment.

To summarise in the UK, of the three major accidents involving push-pull trains, two were caused by substantial objects getting on the line, that was hit by the DVT or DBSO.

  • All three accidents have been fully explained.
  • Recommendations have been made to ensure better track security.
  • I notice that now, where push-pull trains are used for replacement services, they seem to be run using two locomotives.
  • Hitachi and Stadler both build quality bi-mode trains, which can replace push-pull operation using diesel locomotives.

I doubt that we’ll see many more new push-pull services in the UK, except where there is a shortage of suitable new rolling stock or on heritage services.

No reports from Germany have indicated that anything was on the line.



June 7, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 8 Comments