ICE 1 crash at Eschede, 3rd June 1998
On 3rd June 1998, the ICE 884 "WILHELM CONRAD RÖNTGEN"
(München Hbf - Hamburg-Altona) derailed near Eschede, north of
Hannover, at a speed of 200 km/h. Most of the train crashed
into the pillar of a concrete bridge over the track, the remains
of two cars were buried under the ruins of the bridge. The accident
caused 100 deaths and 88 injuries (earlier reports about 300 injuries
were based on assumptions that the train was much more crowded).
Cause of the accident
The accident was caused by a broken wheel tyre on the third axle of the
first middle car (802 808-6). The wheels of the ICE 1
middle cars were originally of the "monobloc" type - made of one piece
of steel with no separate tyre - like those of the power cars and the
middle cars of the other ICE generations. However, these wheels
became unround with time and caused vibrations which the steel springs
of the bogies transmitted into the carbody. The pneumatic suspension of
the ICE 2 and later generations works better with monobloc wheels
because any vibrations caused by the wheels are dampened better. On the
ICE 1, it was chosen to install new wheels of the type
"Bochum 84", manufactured by VSG, with a layer of rubber between the
body and the tyre. Such wheels are common for light rail vehicles, but not
for high speed trains. The wheel "Bochum 84" was designed for speeds
of up to 284 km/h.
An undiscovered crack on the inside of the tyre became longer under the
fatigue loading of the rotation and caused the tyre to break in the end -
something which never occurred before with this wheel type.
See NDTnet for the problem of discovering
cracks in material before they cause accidents.
How the accident happened
About 6 km before the location of the accident, the tyre broke, but
did not cause a derailment yet. About 200 m before the bridge, the tyre
was caught in the flange guide of a switch, which broke off and derailed
the first car to the right hand side. 120 m later, the derailed axle
hit another switch, which caused the next bogie to go off track. The third
car went far enough from the track to destroy a concrete pillar of the bridge,
and was separated from the rest of the train. This triggered an emergency
brake in both parts of the train. The bridge came down slow enough that the
fourth car could pass it without being hit, but was catapulted to the side.
The fifth car was cut in half by the bridge, the sixth was buried under the
bridge, and the rest of the train crashed right into it.
After the accident, the speed limit of all ICE 1 and
ICE 2 trains was lowered to 160 km/h for the time
of the investigation, and it was decided that the wheels may only be worn
down from 920 mm to 890 mm, not 854 mm as before. The
ICE 1 trains are now only allowed to operate with monobloc wheels.
All of them are gradually being rebuilt; until this is done, the
ICE 1 trainsets are reconfigured to shorter trains with only eight
Since the accident until 1st July 1998, many ICE trains did not
circulate. Many of them were replaced by ICE 2 and
locomotive-hauled trains. The most spectacular of these replacement services
was the operation of a THALYS PBKA
between Köln and Hamburg on some days.
The crashed train
The involved train was an ICE 1 with the following
Meanwhile the DBAG took the decision to repair the least
damaged elements of the train (401 051-8, 802 808-6, 802 609-8
and 401 551-7) and take them back into regular service
|0||401 051-8||power car||stayed on track
and stopped about 2 km later by emergency application of disk
|1||802 808-6||2nd class||
derailed and came to a halt about 300 m after the bridge|
|3||802 311-1||crashed into the bridge|
|4||802 374-9|| was catapulted into a forest next to
|5||802 340-0||destroyed by the falling bridge,
one half of it came to a halt about 100 m after the bridge|
|6||802 373-1||buried under remains of
the bridge, mostly destroyed
|9||803 008-2||service car|
|11||801 009-2||1st class|
|14||801 806-1||not damaged by bridge, but compressed
by power car
|15||401 551-7||power car||relatively
Here are links to some other information pages about the crash: