Tram derails in Geneva

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Friday, June 16, 2006

A tram derailed on Thursday in the middle of the afternoon on the Boulevard Georges Favon, near Route du Stand, Geneva, causing major traffic jams. By chance, this spectacular incident caused three light casualties. Sometime after 15.42, amazed eyewitnesses saw the tram travel 30 metres across the road, then up the sidewalk. It came, at the closest, to around 30 cm from a shop window. The three casualties are suffering from whiplash injuries to the neck and back according to Raymond Wicky, head of the Service d'incendie et de secours (SIS; Fire and Help services). On the other hand, the driver was affected psychologically by the incident, as were several shop owners.

Psychological assistance has been offered to them. Nine fire engines, two ambulances, and a dozen policemen and cars quickly arrived at the scene. A large security perimeter was placed around the immobilised tram whose length covered half of the road.

Around a dozen onlookers assisted with the efforts made to move the tram from the road back onto its tracks. A truck then towed it back to its depot, where police and the Swiss Federal department of Transport are to examine the vehicle.

Only a few elements that caused the derailment are known: the tram was on a line different to its normal route. Police will investigate whether the tram was travelling too fast, or if it was a faulty switch at the junction, which would have connected the tram to Rue du Stand, and then return it to normal route. Another element is that drivers have the possibility to change the switches in front of them. The inquiry will determine if the driver, wanting to turn here, chose to merge into his normal route and possibly, this caused the incident.