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Texting driver partly responsible for 156km/h train ride

Driver inattention, and the lack of a warning that automatic speed limiting systems were off, were both deemed contributory factors in an incident that saw a Hyvinkää train reach speeds of up to 156 km/h earlier this year. An inquiry found that speeds of almost double the limit were attained while the driver was texting and making phone calls. The incident has prompted the Safety Investigation Authority to issue new safety guidelines.

Lähijunia Pasilassa
Image: Yle

In March a regional train headed toward Hyvinkää ran through a switch at a speed of 156 km/h - nearly double the maximum speed of 80 km/h in that area.

A passenger in the rear of the train was thrown from a seat due to a strong lurch, but no significant injuries came of the incident.

The authority said that the engine driver was making cell phone calls and fielding text messages and had forgotten to switch on the automatic train protection device, or ATP, which the driver had presumed was in control of the train.

While the incident didn’t cause anyone serious harm, the safety authority issued several new recommendations for the railway.

The Safety Investigation Authority said the incident was partially caused by the lack of a warning device that would have indicated to the driver that the ATP system was not switched on. It also said that the speed of trains is not limited without ATP devices being in use.

Among the recommendations issued:

The ATP device must always be switched on and train engine drivers need to be given a clear warning if the device isn’t operating correctly.

If the ATP device is not switched on, the train speed should be restricted to a maximum speed of 80 km/h, the safety authority said.

Clear instructions on the use of mobile devices by engine drivers while driving the train must be provided.

The authority also recommended that Trafi, the Transport Safety Agency "should demand that the subject matter of human factors will be emphasised more in both the safety management systems of railway operators and training in the field."

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