Railway Infrastructure

Three train crashes in four days

The silent days of railways broke down with 3 successive accidents lastweek.

Injuries in Yerkoy crash

First crash happened near Yerkoy, Yozgat on 7th of October. A freight train heading to Kayseri hit another freight train running in the same direction. 2 loco drivers were injured. The union (BTS) published a press release stating the causes of accident as more work with less staff, insufficient investment for security and insufficient traffic management system.

So close to disaster at Korfez

Just after Yerkoy crash, on 8th of October, a freight train hit another train with full of gasoline from back at Korfez, Kocaeli. Fortunately, no injury nor death.

2 drivers lost lives at Kalecik

Third crash was the worst one. Two trains collided head-on. Crash happened on Kayseri-Çankırı stretch, near Kalecik, Ankara. Two loco drivers lost their lives, two were injured.

Signalization problem?

After these three crashes, signalization is at the top of discussion list. However, the crash point was already signalled with ETCS L1. In normal conditions, on a ETCS L1 signalled line with properly equipped locos, such a collusion is theoretically impossible. The loco driver is warned of a risk of collision, and the train stops automatically if the loco driver ignores the warning.

In Yerköy and Körfez, railway is equipped with ETCS L0 type signalization. In this type, the ATS equipments in locos stop train in case of violation of red light.

Problem in switches?

Switch problem is also in the list. That would mean directing train into wrong track by mistake or technical problem. Switching train to wrong track was the main cause of last Ankara HST crash. There are two tracks at crash area and one train was waiting, thus switch may be a possible cause in that case. Crash was not so heavy which shows that train was moving so slow at the time of crash. This may indicate that trains was passing through a switch.

Fault of loco driver?

First to say: If signalization systems works well, fault of loco driver cannot end up with collusion.

Loco drivers and traffic managers take more responsibility in case of problem in signalization or loco equipment. All rail network except HST lines are single track in Turkey, If line is not signalized, loco drivers get in contact with traffic managers and ask confirmation before any departure from station. Mountainsides can sometimes block communication.

Signalization is more and more crucial

Currently all passenger trains except HSTs are suspended due to Covid-19. Some of this empty capacity is fulfilled by incresing demand in freight trains. Also, with liberalization, efficiency is prioritized, trains run faster, more transport is done with less equipment. In forthcoming days, after passenger train services restart, some stretches may reach full capacity usage. In some parts of network like Adana-Mersin, İzmir-Balıkesir, İzmir-Aydın, İstanbul-Kapıkule and Kırıkkale-Kayseri (where Yerköy crash happened), heavy passenger service traffic runs together with heavy freight traffic. In those lines, traffic management is very important.

Signalization not only increases capacity of the line thus increase efficiency and decrease costs, also decreases the risk of crash by far, which should end up with desevring priority in railway investments.

Cover photo: BTS ©

2 replies »

  1. Hi Onur, Is signalization going to be prioritised on all new lines? Turkey is renowned for its rail networks but if efficient signalization is not part of the new rail systems it is very worrying. Is someone paying attention?


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