Train traffic to Leiden halted after train crash leaves 1 dead, dozens injured
Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS) has confirmed that train traffic to and from the city of Leiden has been halted on Tuesday, April 4 after a dramatic crash on Tuesday morning in the Voorschoten region left one dead and dozens more injured.
1 dead and dozens injured in Dutch train crash
According to emergency services, a passenger train travelling from Leiden to The Hague derailed after colliding with a small construction crane at around 3.25am on Tuesday. So far, one passenger has been confirmed dead, while dozens more have been injured. 19 people, including the train driver, were taken to a hospital in Utrecht for treatment.
It has since been confirmed that the victim of the crash was an employee of BAM, the construction company which owns the equipment that was used to carry out construction work on the track. The 65-year-old man was driving the crane that was involved in the incident.
Speaking to NOS, a spokesperson for the Hollands Midden Security Region explained that two of the train’s four carriages were derailed as a result of the incident, while NS reports that the train was carrying between 50 and 60 passengers. On Instagram, NOS shared a dramatic video of the crash, taken by one of the train's passengers.
No trains between Leiden and The Hague until at least April 18
As a result of the incident, NS initially stated that no trains will be running to or from Leiden all day on Tuesday, until the train wreck has been removed and the damage to the track repaired. It has since been confirmed that, as a result of the extensive damage to the track, no trains will run between Leiden and The Hague until at least April 18.
It is not yet entirely clear how the crash came about. A spokesperson for ProRail has said the rail operator was carrying out construction work on two of the four tracks overnight, and it’s been reported that a freight train from Germany also collided with some of the construction equipment. ProRail chief John Voppen has explained that the freight train - which was likely travelling on the correct track - was the first to collide with the BAM crane.
Investigators are still unsure how the crane came to be on one of the tracks that were still in use, but it's believed that the initial collision resulted in debris landing on the track being used by the NS Intercity train.
During a press conference on Tuesday morning, it was announced that the Public Prosecution Service (OM) had launched a criminal investigation to determine the cause of the crash. The Dutch Safety Board has also launched an investigation into the cause of the incident.
The Netherlands left shocked by news of deadly crash
Voppen said Tuesday marked a “dark day for the Dutch railway,” while Wouter Koolmess, the CEO of NS, said in a statement that he was “shocked” by the news: “You hope to never experience an accident like this. Like everyone else, I'm full of questions… At the moment, all attention is focused on the well-being of our travellers and colleagues.”
Meanwhile, on Twitter, both Prime Minister Mark Rutte and the Dutch royal family expressed their shock at the news of the crash, and said their thoughts were with the victims and their families. King Willem-Alexander visited the site of the crash on Tuesday morning.
Last major Dutch train crash was in March 2017
Tuesday’s crash is all the more shocking due to the fact that the country rarely witnesses such accidents. In fact, the last time a train crash in the Netherlands resulted in casualties was back in the spring of 2017, when at least two people were killed in Harlingen after a train collided with a car at a level crossing.
Thumb: Lithuaniakid via Shutterstock.com.