Germany holds ‘maglev’ train crash talks

GERMANY’S transport minister met representatives of train manufacturer Transrapid yesterday to discuss the crash of a “maglev” high-speed train that killed 23 people and injured 10.

The Transrapid magnetic elevation train, which floats on a magnetic cushion, hit a maintenance truck on Friday on a test track supported by five-metre concrete stilts in the Emsland district of Germany.

The costly train, which set a speed record of 450 km per hour (280 miles per hour) in 1993, was developed by Transrapid International, a joint venture between German industrial firms Siemens AG and ThyssenKrupp.

Transport minister Wolfgang Tiefensee discussed the crash with representatives of the consortium in Berlin.

“For me, issues of security are of the utmost importance,” Tiefensee said after the meeting. “Such an accident can never be allowed to happen again.”

Also present was Erwin Huber, the economy minister from Bavaria, which is considering a Transrapid line between Munich airport and the main railway station.

The Transrapid representatives said they wanted to clarify the cause of the crash as soon as possible.

Alexander Retemeyer, spokesman for the local state prosecutors’ office, hinted on Saturday the investigation was focusing on whether human error could have caused the crash.

He said the control station should have known that the maintenance truck was on the track as this had been noted in a handwritten log.

The workers in the control booth were in the care of psychiatrists and would be questioned next week, Retemeyer said.

ThyssenKrupp chief executive Ekkehard Schulz said his confidence in Transrapid’s technology had not been shaken.

“I remain convinced that this is a safe transport technology,” Schulz told ZDF public television. “There are absolutely no grounds for doubting it, not even after this horrible accident.”

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