INVESTIGATIONS HAVE begun into the cause of a train crash that killed 23 people in Germany last Friday.
The incident occurred on a test track for magnetic levitation (Maglev) trains in Lathen, a small town on the German/ Dutch border.
At about 9.30am local time, the train, travelling at around 170km/h, struck a service vehicle that had been left on the track. Despite the speed of the impact the Maglev train did not derail because its underside wraps around the track.
Human error was immediately blamed for the incident by track operator IABG. However, a full investigation is under way to discover why the service vehicle was left on the track when the Maglev train began its 32km journey around the test track.
The vehicle did not use the Maglev technology. Instead it was powered by a diesel engine and ran on large rubber tyres.
'We are deeply shocked about this incident and will try to clarify the causes as soon as possible, ' said IABG managing director Rudolf Schwarz.
Police at the scene said that because of the service vehicle's slow speed it would have needed over an hour to get from the collision point to its offtrack storage.
The test facility, which also operates as a tourist attraction, was built in 1985, some 50 years after the technology was rst patented in Germany.
It did not have the most upto-date security system, which is said to make this type of accident impossible.
The only commercially operating Maglev system, which is based in Shanghai, does have the latest systems.