25th April 1988 – ME 1535 and the Sorø accident

It’s true that an inordinate amount of the historical articles on this site are related to railway accidents.  However, often these are some of the most noteworthy events to occur to a class during their careers.

It looks hopeful that the Danish Henschel-built, GM-engined diesel-electric class ME might just about clock up its 40th year in front-line service before withdrawal in favour of new Siemens Vectron electrics.  Although the class has not been defined by involvement in accidents – so far, not one machine has been withdrawn as a result of a collision – they have been involved in their fair share.

Probably the most significant of these occurred at Sorø on Monday 25th April 1988, when a Fredericia to København IC train hauled by ME 1535 derailed at speed (link to a 28-minute documentary, in Danish, here).  8 people died.

DSC01679.JPG

ME 1535 pauses at København H, 20/03/17 (JW)

Due to engineering work at Sorø, the train was diverted ‘bang road’, but took the crossover at an estimated 100 km/h instead of the prescribed 40 km/h.  Due to its low centre of gravity, the loco remained upright, but destruction reigned further down the train.  The driver was convicted of gross negligence.

This accident is largely credited with forcing through the development of automatic train control on Danish railways, although this did not happen quickly.

Just something to have a think about the next time you catch up with ME 1535 in Denmark!

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