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Signal controller had been playing games on his phone before German train crash

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Signal controller had been playing games on his phone before German train crash
Aerial view of rescue workers at the site where two trains collided head-on near Bad Aibling, Germany, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. Several people have been killed and dozens were injured. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
Aerial view of rescue workers at the site where two trains collided head-on near Bad Aibling, Germany, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. Several people have been killed and dozens were injured. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
Aerial view of rescue workers at the site where two trains collided head-on near Bad Aibling, Germany, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. Several people have been killed and dozens were injured. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

A recent development with regard to the February 9 train crash in southern Germany has been made, and it involves gaming. The tragedy claimed the lives of 11 people and injured 80 after two commuter trains collided head-on.

Chief public prosecutor Wolfgang Giese has said in a statement that the signal controller admitted to playing a game on his phone before the crash in Bavaria. On Tuesday, Mr. Giese issued a warrant for the dispatcher’s arrest.

“The latest investigation shows that, in violation of the railway work rules, the accused switched on his mobile phone during his shift on the morning of the accident, started an online computer game and played actively for an extended period of time until shortly before the collision,” Mr. Giese said in a statement.

The unidentified 39-year-old appeared in court on Tuesday and denied that playing the mobile games distracted him from his work. The use of personal phones while at work is strictly forbidden by the company.

“Due to the close timing it must be assumed that the accused was distracted from controlling the cross-traffic of the trains,” the statement said.

“This likely led the dispatcher to give the trains the wrong signals and then, once he noticed his error, to fumble the emergency call by pressing the wrong combination of buttons, meaning the train drivers were unable to hear it.”

The trains and the track involved in the crash were fitted with an automatic brake system which was introduced in Germany after 10 people died in a similar incident in 2011.

A large proportion of Germany’s railways have single-track sections. The crash occurred on a bend in a wooded area beside a canal that would have prevented the train drivers from establishing visual contact before the accident. Both trains were travelling around 60 miles per hour when the crash occurred.

The dispatcher faces now involuntary homicide charges.