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When a high-speed train collides with a truck

In the morning, at 7:43 Czech Summer Time, a very ugly accident took place in Studénka, a town 20 miles from the Polish border and 10 miles from Czechia's 3rd largest city, the Northeast industrial city of Ostrava (300,000 people). The top 4 cities are Prague, Brno, Ostrava, Pilsen.

The King of the Road, sure...

In the case of the 5 Czechs abducted in Lebanon (yes, the identities I figured out have been confirmed, up to the ambiguous first name of Mr Pešek, the bodyguard), we know nothing about the kidnappers or details how and why they were taken (some beheading by the ISIS in coming days can't be excluded).

In this case, we know everything. But this knowledge can't save the human lives. Two people have died, several others are in critical condition, a dozen more are injured.

An SC 512 Pendolino train, the highest-speed train in the Czech railways (we tend to use the term "Pendolino" for all high-speed trains on our territory), was just starting its journey from Bohumín in the Northeast to the spa town of Františkovy Lázně here in Western Bohemia.

Unfortunately, a Polish truck driver – who was transferring some metallic plates from Poland to Hungary – ignored the hysterically flashing red traffic lights which mean "the train is coming". To ignore these lights were the first, obvious lethal mistake of the driver. When the truck was already on the tracks, the level crossing barriers began to go down, an event that could have been predicted from the flashing traffic lights.

Now, the second mistake came. The truck driver could have simply broken the barriers. A truck like this is almost certainly strong enough to break those relatively thin barriers. He should have tried – he still had some time to act.

Instead, the truck driver realized that a crash was coming so he wanted to save his life. The original reports said that he simply opened the door and escaped from the truck before the collision. However, the video from a camera showed something else.

He just moved his truck a meter or two forward so that his body was outside the cylinder that the train is supposed to occupy when it gets through. So after the collision, he could have stayed in the cabin and survived without problems. I think it's still believed that he didn't make any attempt to break the barriers.

Look what the Pendolino looked like before the deformation.

The truck was divided to pieces, with the healthy driver protected inside the amputated cabin (the platform was taken away from the cabin by the train, too). Railway employees in the railway station jumped into the drainage channel. The fate of some of the people in the train – which continued to move for additional 500 meters – was worse, of course.

The train driver, Mr Jan Č. (59 years) – who heroically prevented a similar collision of his train with 2 other objects a year ago – wasn't lucky this time. Both of his legs had to be amputated and his life is at stake, too. Two passengers are dead, three people are in critical condition, and a dozen of people are injured.

The government was just going with another train to Ostrava, the big city adjacent to this tragedy. These guys did well, of course. The interior minister Mr Chovanec has pointed out that if human stupidity were exerting a buoyancy lift, the truck driver would be flying like a dove. Polish commenters agree that the truck driver is an idiot.

Condolences to the relatives of the victims of the tragedy. The Pendolino wasn't for free, either – it costs almost $4 million – but this loss is the much more reversible one...

Although Studénka has just 10,000 inhabitants, it has been famous for Vagónka Studénka, a company that ironically produced trains. This is not the first recent train crash in the town; the previous one occurred in 2008.

Crazily enough, today – on the same day – another Pendolino participated in another, much less serious crash in Poland. Aren't slower trains better, after all?

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