Destroyed railway systems

Vandalism to cost several ten thousand Euro in repairs

Der Tatort offenbart Spuren enormer Gewalteinwirkung.

The crime scene shows marks of enormous violent force.

BORNHEIM-SECHTEM. The Deutsche Bahn speaks of „blind destructive fury“. Unkown culprits have destroyed the railway systems at the track in Bornheim-Sechtem. The damage caused considerable delays to rail traffic.

The Deutsche Bahn speaks of „blind destructive fury“. Unkown culprits have destroyed the railway systems at the track in Bornheim-Sechtem. The damage caused considerable delays to rail traffic.

A path of destruction and damage in the region of several ten thousand Euro has been left behind by unknown culprits late on Tuesday night at the Cologne-Bonn train track near Sechtem. Among others a large switch box, axis counting device and several signal cases were destroyed. This caused a considerable amount of delays in the train traffic schedule.

„Normally we have to deal with metal thieves, but this time it was blind destructive fury“, according to a spokesperson for the Bahn. The federal police are investigating, but there has been no trace of the culprits yet. Mostly affected were the trains of the RE 5 line, during the early hours of yesterday morning, also the regional trams of the lines 26 and 48.

Due to the destruction of electronic systems, there were no signals at the track in Sechtem, which would normally regulate the train traffic. „Thus, the culprits endangered the safety of the passengers“, said the spokesperson. 

This case of vandalism happened around 10pm on Tuesday night near the Bannweg crossing. On a stretch of about 100 metres, the switch boxes and signal systems were destroyed. That did not only cause the signal failure for the train drivers on this track, but brought the entire section in Roisdorf and Sechtem to a halt for the responsible dispatchers.

As a result, many trains needed to be guided manually through that track section until 10am the following day by the dispatchers on duty. This caused delays in both direction of 15 to 20 minutes.  „Because of the missing signals, the dispatchers had to call the train drivers and give them the green light verbally to pass slowly“, explained Florian Kunert, division manager line and signal technology Bonn. 

 

During the night, Kunert and eight staff members were working on assessing the damage and to do first repairs. „That was like open heart surgery. We had to repair the facilities or replace them and keep the train schedule running somehow. At the same time we have to ensure our customers’ safety and our own“, he said when interviewed on site in Sechtem. 

Around 10am on Wednesday the technical workers had provisionally repaired the signal and power systems so that the trains could pass that stretch of the tracks signal-directed again. Due to the continuous repair work which might last until Friday to fix the entire damage, all trains will pass Roisdorf-Sechtem with reduced speed. Meaning: Passengers can expect delays still. „Those should only be in the region of a few minutes though“, said the spokesperson. 

Despite regular checks by Bahn employees and federal police, it is not the first time this track section at the Bannweg crossing in Bornheim has been the targeted. 

„We noticed similar cases repeatedly over the past two years.“ Usually non-ferrous metal thieves  steal metal parts and aim for copper, aluminium and bronze.“ The Deutsche Bahn states explicitly that standing on or between the tracks means acute danger to life.  Also, residents were asked to come forward and call the police if they have seen any suspicious ongoings at any stage. 

 

Original text: Klaus Elsen

Translation: Mareike Graepel