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Gaming blamed for rail crash error

BBC News BBC News 12/04/2016
Train collision scene, 9 Feb 16 © AFP Train collision scene, 9 Feb 16

A German train controller has been arrested over the February rail crash that killed 11 people in Bavaria, as prosecutors suspect he was distracted by a computer game at the time.

Train collision graphic © BBC Train collision graphic

According to prosecutors he was playing the computer game on his mobile phone and made a signalling error, then dialled the wrong emergency number.

A site of a train crash in Bavaria, Germany © BBC A site of a train crash in Bavaria, Germany

He has admitted that version of events, German media report.

Two commuter trains collided on a single-track stretch near Bad Aibling.

Eighty-five passengers suffered injuries, some of them life-threatening.

The man could be charged with involuntary manslaughter and could face five years in jail.

The trains crashed head-on while both were travelling at about 100km/h (60mph) east of Bad Aibling, a spa town about 60km (37 miles) south-east of Munich.

Investigators quoted by German media said the timings of the computer game and the crash pointed to "the accused having been distracted from his management of rail traffic at the junction".

The stretch of line had an automatic signalling system designed to halt any train that passed a stop signal.

But reports in German media suggested that the system had been switched off to let the eastbound train, which was running late, go past.

The investigation ruled out technical faults with the trains or signalling system as being behind the crash.

All those killed in the crash were men aged between 24 and 59.

Train crash: Evidence of human error

Germany's rail safety mechanism

In case signals fail, German railways are fitted with a final safety guard to prevent crashes.

Cab signalling known as PZB (Punktfoermige Zugbeeinflussung - or "intermittent train control") will set off an alarm in the driver's compartment when the train approaches a red light.

If the driver does not respond by pressing a button, the train will brake automatically.

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