UpdateAt least 15 killed, many hurt in Italy train LPG explosion

30 June 2009 17:29  [Source: ICIS news]

(Updates and adds detail throughout)

At least 15 killed as LPG train explodes in Viareggio, ItalyLONDON (ICIS news)--At least 15 people were killed and dozens injured when rail tankers carrying liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) derailed and exploded at Viareggio in northern Italy, officials and media reports said on Tuesday.

The cause of the accident was as yet unclear but an axle on the lead wagon of the 14 car train was broken in the accident. The wagons involved were built between 2003 and 2006, leasing company GATX Europe said.

The train, which was transporting LPG from La Spezia to Pisa, had just passed through Viareggio’s railway station before crashing shortly before midnight local time on Monday.

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The explosion which followed caused buildings to collapse amid widespread devastation. Those killed and injured lived alongside the rail tracks or were driving nearby, according to media reports.

The train’s locomotive was pulling 14 tank wagons, the cars leased by GATX Europe to Italian client FS Logistica.

Earlier reports from Italy’s state railway company Ferrovie dello Stato said the lead car was registered to Polish railway company PKP and 13 to the German rail and distribution group Deutsche Bahn.

"In all probability, the accident in Viareggio was caused by a structural failure in the first wagon in the convoy," said Mauro Moretti, the state railway’s CEO, in a statement.

The wagons had been checked and were in compliance with EU standards, Moretti said.

GATX Europe is one of Europe’s largest rail car lease companies with more than 20,000 wagons but gas transport is not a core business. The wagons involved in the incident were built between 2003 and 2006, GATX Europe CFO and CAO (chief administration officer) Werner Mitteregger told ICIS news.

“These cars have been maintained from a legal point of view in certified workshops,” he said. “We are extremely shocked by this accident,” he added.

“Something extraordinary happened here,” deputy executive director of CER, a group representing 72 EU railway and infrastructure companies, Libor Lochman said. “Maintenance is the issue,” he added.

The transport of dangerous goods by rail, including gas, is covered by the EU’s RID directive and subsequent legislation implemented at the national level.

While rail wagon axles on high speed trains are regularly tested, this is not the case for goods vehicles which run at lower speeds, he said.

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By: Nigel Davis
+44 20 8652 3214

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