Recaps1x5: Derailment at Eschede recap
: In the morning, the train left the station, heading to Hamburg. Everything was normal. The rails were not damaged, the engines were working properly, the train wasn't shaking, etc... However, after a couple of hours, a big metal piece from the train destroyed a small section of it, almost killing a man and his family. From that moment, everything went wrong. The man was desperate and he ran through 6 or 7 wagons to find the officer, who was the only person with permission to stop the train. The train was extremely long and it took more than 1 minute to the man to find the officer. Unfortunately, he needed to see the damage to stop the train. While they were running to the damaged wagon, they could hear a loud crash. In seconds, the train derailed and crashed into a bridge. 2 old people who lived in front of the bridge immediately called the rescue teams. The teams were working all the morning and afternoon, rescuing a lot of people. Unfortunately, 101 people died and about 80 were injured.
The investigations began the day after the accident. They were not sure about what caused it, since the clues were confusing. Their first theory: the train crashed into a car. They looked for a car in the mess, and they found it! However, after some research, they discovered that the car was owned by the train company and it was parked in the bridge, so technically the train destroyed it, not vice-versa. They examined every possibility, but they didn't find the cause until they examined the wagon which was destroyed by a metallic bar (the same wagon of the man who ran looking for an officer). After examining that piece, they discovered that it was part of the wheel that was under it. The wheel had a "wheel-tire" design. Previously, the company used "monoblock" wheels, but those caused an uncomfortable vibration. They got the idea of using "wheel-tire" designs from the streetcars. The engineers improved it. Unfortunately, they didn't notice that these wheels have a serious fatigue problems. The streetcar company had to change the wheels 6 times a year in order to avoid accidents, and since this train moved much faster, ICE should change the wheels very frequently. Further investigations proved that ICE engineers didn't do accurate tests to the broken wheel. However, this investigation also proves that even if the tests weren't accurate, the wheel failed. Anyways, the investigators still had a problem: How was this wheel related to the accident? After examining the wagon again, they noticed another strange thing; there were 2 big holes in the walls of the train. Those holes were made by a piece of metal which is located in the rails and is used to be redirected to the secondary rail. The broken wheel hit this piece. The crash was very strong and 2 wheels derailed. Then, these 2 wheels accidentally moved to the secondary rail just in front of the bridge, making the train crash into it... read more.