German ICE Accident

A train derailed and hit an overpass near Eschede in northern Germany at 200 km/h (125 mph) on June 3rd. Thirteen coaches were destroyed, 100 people died. The accident was probably due to a broken wheelring, which got caught in a turnout and derailed one of the coaches. Links verified November 12th

arial view of accident, 18 kb
Who took this picture? I would like to give credit to the photographer.

It was emailed to me, and the guy who mailed it said he found it on

The best links: Official links:

Links on this site:

German Deutsche Bahn AG has paid out around 10 million marks ($5.4 million) compensation to victims of last year's Eschede crash, when an ICE slammed into a concrete bridge at 200 km/h and 100 people died. Die Welt writes that compensation amounted to 30 000 DM per death, payed to families of the victims. A state prosecutor's investigation of the accident is still not complete but could lead to legal proceedings against DB AG. (May 4th 1999)

A broken turnout could have helped cause the tragic accident in Eschede in June. Investigators are unsure whether the points were opened by the faulty wheel or from another cause. An official says that the safety of all other turnouts on the German network must be questioned. But the DBAG retorts that there is nothing to suggest the turnout was faulty. (January 13th 1999)

DBAG will not see any fall in revenue this year, despite the tragedy in Eschede. Revenue was back to normal in July, only a month after the accident. But profits fell for 1998. (October 23rd/25th)

The crashed ICE train made an unscheduled stop two hours before the crash on June 3rd, due to strange noises, the magazine Focus says. The driver and a conductor heard strange noises and went outside to look, but found nothing out of the ordinary. But state prosecutor Gisela Lüning says "There is no connection at all". Lünig says the stop pertained to a problem with the train crew. Meanwhile, DBAG says traffic will return to normal on July 1st and all ICEs should be back in service then. (June 29th)

A Hamburg lawyer is suing DBAG on the grounds it knew the wheels on ICE1 trains were unsafe. (June 23rd)

ThalysA Thalys train will stand in for the ICE between Hamburg and Bonn until enough ICEs have been checked through. Photo & scan Chevin. (June 19th)

All 59 ICE1 trains have been recalled again for check-ups. It has been discovered that wheels of similar construction as on the ICE1s have broken on local trains. (June 14th)

German DBAG has been the target of 40 attacks by unknown assailants this year, newspaper Bild reported on Thursday. The most serious attack happened in March when assailants placed cement blocks on the track, jammed the point with wood, unscrewed bolts, and damaged an earth cable. An ICE hit the blocks but did not derail. (June 11th)

The first scheduled train passed the site of the accident on Tuesday at 17:35 local time, and train traffic past the site has almost returned to normal. München-Hamburg trains are delayed by a half hour as they are worked with 200 km/h IC and not 280 km/h ICE sets. Also, the death toll has fallen from 102 to 98 and is now at 95. (June 10th)

DBAG will in the future test the wheel rings on ICE1s with ultrasound more often. A complete overhaul of safety routines will also be implemented. (June 8th)

DBAG's passenger services won't return to normal for two weeks, due to a shortage of safety checked ICEs. (June 8th, 11:44 CET)

The tracks and catenary at the accident site are being restored starting Sunday; they should be ready for traffic by the middle of next week. Three ICE1s should be checked and back in service at 280 km/h on Sunday. They will be put into service between München-Berlin and -Hamburg. (June 7th)

150 passengers had to disembark from the ICE 90 "Prinz Eugen" Wien-Hamburg on Sunday the 7th following strange noises. The driver stopped the train in Neumarkt, south of Nürnberg, where passengers had to transfer to regional trains. (June 7th)

The death toll has fallen back down to 98 as bodies are recounted. Identification and counting have been difficult due to the state of the bodies. Bloodhounds from the Red Cross have determined that there are no more bodies to be found. The toll topped 100 as debris under the collapsed bridge was lifted on Friday. CNN photo. (June 6th/7th)

All ICE1 trains have been recalled again for ultrasound examination of wheels. Some had been re-released into service but have been recalled again. (June 6th, 23:13 CET)

The ICE-2 trains, which are essentially short ICE trains with a power unit at one end, have also been restricted. When the heavy power unit is in front, the trains may run at full speed, 280 km/h. When the power unit is at the back, the trains are restricted to 200. Strong winds can destabilize the unpowered control car. (June 6th, 13:55 CET)

DBAG is considering installing fault detectors in the ICEs which would detect broken wheelrings and derailed wheels. Both the newer ICE trains of the second generation and French TGVs have solid wheels cast in one peice. (Saturday 6:10 CET)

The first-generation ICE trains are still restricted to 160 km/h instead of the usual 280 km/h. Many are still (Saturday morning local time) in depots having their wheelrings checked, though others have been released back into service. Train wheels have a ring of very hard metal around them which is heated up, fitted on the wheel and cooled down. This fixes the outside ring to the wheel very tightly.

A broken wheelring is thought to be the the cause of the accident, though this is still speculation and a proper investigation will take weeks. The wheelring theory is backed by damage to the track, including a broken sleeper, which has been found five km ahead of the site of the accident. At this site, parts of a broken wheelring were found. This also explains the strange noises heard by passengers before the accident, which then died down. The noises then came back just before the crash.

Since the front power unit reached Eschede unscathed, it makes sense that a coach derailed and uncoupled from the rest of the train. This also supports the boken ring theory. (June 6th)

95 people died after InterCity Express 884 München - Hamburg derailed at 200 km/h and struck a road bridge which then collapsed. The accident, the worst since the war, occurred near Eschede between Hannover and Hamburg at 11 am local time on Wednesday the 3rd.

Thirteen cars left the tracks, and the bridge collapsed on top of two coaches in the train; it was not untill Friday that the rescue workers reached these two coaches. The front power unit rolled past the station in Eschede alone without any cars at 10:59; when the railwayman at the station saw this, he put all signals at emergency stop. This prevented an even more gory accident, railway officials say.

Chancellor Kohl has cancelled a trip to Italy, officials abroad have been recalled, and political debates have been postponed.

ICEs can cruise at up to 280 km/h or 175 mph. This is the first fatal ICE accident. South of the border, French TGVs attain 300 km/h. In 17 years of operation over 1200 km of tracks, only two people have died in a TGV train. That was in 1988 when a TGV crashed with a road vehicle at a grade crossing at 110 km/h (70mph). However this was not on the TGV network but on conventional tracks.

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