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

Storm Arwen: Image Shows Severe Damage To Train Following Red Weather Warning

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the Scotsman.

It shows a dramatic picture of a Class 170 train, that was hit by a tree, that was blown onto the line.

The incident happened on the Borders Railway and luckily no-one was hurt.

December 2, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

ANALYSIS: Managing Our Earthworks – The Task Gets Harder Each Year

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Rail Magazine.

The on line article is only an introduction and just a taster, of what will be fully available in the magazine.

But it does look to be a serious account of the problems about keeping the railway safe in all this bad weather.

I shall be interested to read the full article, when the magazine hits my door-mat.

August 25, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , | Leave a comment

‘Mammoth Task’ Completed As Overground Line Reopens

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Railnews.

The article tells the story of one of the worst rail cock-ups of recent years.

A rogue wagon on a freight train ripped up four kilometres of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line on the night of the 23rd of January.

And it was only yesterday, that the line fully reopened.

This is the last sentence of the article.

The cost of the repairs and resulting disruption has not been revealed.

Effectively, four kilometres of new railway don’t come cheap!

February 20, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

From Groningen To Leer By Train

On my recent trip to the Netherlands and Germany, I didn’t get to do this trip by train and had to make do with a slow bus ride.

However I’ve just found this video on YouTube.

The Freisenbrücke is about an hour from the start of the video.

I should fast forward, as there is only so much travelling on a single-track rail line, that you can watch before falling asleep.

I got this impression of the route in the video, which was made in October 2014.

  • The route is mainly single-track, with some passing loops at stations.
  • the track is not electrified, except for short sections at either end.
  • The track was almost straight.
  • The track, stations and signalling appear to be in good condition.
  • There were a large number of level crossings.
  • The train took around one hour and twenty minutes between Groningen and Leer stations.

I can imagine that Deutsche Bahn and Arriva Netherlands were a good bit more and just annoyed, when the MV Emsmoon destroyed the bridge.

Wikipedia says this about the accident.

On 3 December 2015, Emsmoon collided with the Friesenbrücke [de], which carries the Ihrhove–Nieuweschans railway over the Ems. The cause of the accident was reported to be miscommunication between the bridge operator and pilot on board the ship. The bridge could not be raised as a train was due, but the ship failed to stop and collided with the bridge, blocking both railway and river.[4] The bridge was so severely damaged that it will have to be demolished. Replacement is expected to take five years

I suspect, it’s not just an massive inconvenience for the railway, as a couple of miles South on the River Ems, is the Meyer Werft shipyard, where cruise ships up to 180,000 tonnes are built.

I found this document on the web site and gleaned the following information.

  • The cost of rebuilding could be up to eight million euros.
  • The new bridge will be finished in 2024, if all goes well.
  • Environmentalists are bringing lawsuits against the construction of the bridge.

It will be a challenge to rebuild this bridge.

This video shows the new bridge

Let’s hope that one of those large cruise ships dopesn’t hit the bridge.


This surely has been a very costly acciodent.


April 1, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 2 Comments

We Just Get Leaves On The Line

But the Norwegians have just suffered a bigger problem!

See this article on Global Riail News, which is entitled Tank Removed From Railway Line In Norway.

It reportedly fell of the back of a train.

November 12, 2017 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 4 Comments