BRIG, Switzerland (Kyodo) Swiss transport authorities on Friday blamed excessive speed for the July 23 Glacier Express derailment that killed a 64-year-old Japanese woman and injured 42 other passengers.
Authorities cited human error in releasing preliminary results of the investigation in Brig, located some 10 km from the accident site. They said the train was behind schedule at the time of the accident.
The authorities have been analyzing the logs of the train’s automatic operational recorder, the condition of the tracks and the ground under the tracks since the train derailed between the villages of Fiesch and Lax in the Alpine canton of Valais.
The sightseeing train’s driver earlier told investigators the rails appeared deformed a moment before the derailment, but that he could do nothing to avoid the derailment.
Track maintenance work conducted a few days before the accident, when workers replaced the gravel under the tracks, is also being considered as a cause.
The last three cars of the six-car Glacier Express, carrying about 210 passengers, derailed and the last two cars overturned.
A total of 38 of the injured were Japanese tourists, including nearly a dozen who suffered severe injuries.
Local officials describe it as the worst accident in the 80-year history of the train’s service.
According to Swiss health authorities, eight of the injured Japanese remained in Swiss hospitals as of Friday. Of those taken to hospitals, two women from Yokohama and Chiba Prefecture, aged 71 and 62, were once in critical condition but said to be recovering after being moved out of the intensive care units.
The Glacier Express, which has an average speed of 30 kph, is famous for offering stunning views of the Swiss Alps.
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