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New Kaprun Trial

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Is there going to be a second Kaprun trial? The Kaprun Lift Company is taking workers from the heater company to court. The heater company has countered that as the Judge found all accusations of fault unproven in the first trial then it is not their heater that is to blame.

Link to Article in German - this is an earlier version of the article I'm reading in the print edition.

The Austrian Justice Minister Boehmdorder has called for EU wide standards to be applied to ski lifts and says Austrian law will change to come into line with other countries to make corporate manslaughter charges easier. [APA News Service]
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Interestingly it seems that Austrian law in general is lagging well behind the rest of the EU and certainly the UK (where at least corporate manslaughter is a principal but not a practice) as evidenced by an article in a the news today where an english shoolgirl was allegedly raped on the last day of her school trip. The Austrian authorities seem not to be taking any action becasue a) she was over the age of consent (14 in Austria) and b) there was no physical violence. Unbelieveable.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
As far as I can see, the heater - though attributed as the source of the combustion - is a handy scapegoat for the Austrian transport authorities which licensed the train to run with no means of escape or fire extinguishers.

Leaving aside the extended litigation over this affair, I take it that everyone responsible for this disaster - from the Austrian transport minister downwards - remains comfortably in place? Or has anyone stepped aside for safer and more responsible people to take charge?
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My German is not up to translating that article I'm afraid but I was under the impression that the heater was in some way "unauthorised", i.e. it wasn't part of the original construction or an approved alteration. Don't tell me this is going to be a "There was no warning on the box about not using this heater on a train" type of incident?
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
If 155 people die in a disco because the fire exits are locked - not unkown in recent history - then the focus is on the fact that there was no means of escape.

But now that the relatives of the dead are (quite understandably) furious with the verdict, the Austrian authorities put the blame on the heater. I don't buy it, personally.
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You'll need to Register first of course.
David Goldsmith wrote:
If 155 people die in a disco because the fire exits are locked - not unkown in recent history - then the focus is on the fact that there was no means of escape.

But now that the relatives of the dead are (quite understandably) furious with the verdict, the Austrian authorities put the blame on the heater. I don't buy it, personally.


If one of the doors had opened while the train was moving the people could easily fall out just before the tunnel entrance. Maybe the doors were automatically locked to prevent this. People did get out and understandably ran away from the fire up-hill but they all perished.
I'm still not convinced fire extinguishers and unlocked doors would of saved them.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
As an engineer if I had been responsible for the design of the lift I would be guilty of proffesional negligance, an engineer is always supposed to design things so they fail safe and to provide adaquate saftey features to ensure a disaster such as this does not happen, the only exception are aircraft engineers who have a hard time if something fails so they design systems to be as unlikely to fail as possible.

Having the doors automatically unlock if you pull a leaver inside the train would have worked and an escape system to direct people down the slope would have ensured the survival of most if not all the passengers, all the survivors went in this direction where the air was being sucked in from, thus they got fresh cool air, wheras the fate of those who got out and went up was less fortunate.

As it was those that got out did so by breaking the windows and escaping that way.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
I'm an engineer too - BEng (Hons).
The train operated for over 25 years without problem, the risk of people falling out of the train was probably greater than fire. Have you seen the tunnel? There isn't a lot of room between the train and the tunnel wall. To get downhill they would of had to walk through smoke and probably fire. Even if there was an escape route directing people downhill, I doubt that they would of used it. Only the people that were fortunate to be at the back of the train were able to break the glass and get downhill.
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 You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
DB. The train operated for 25 years as a time bomb.
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ironically the train was replaced after around 20 years and people say the original train wouldn't of burnt as it was much more basic (less fancy fabrics/materials) than the actual train invovled.

Even if the doors had opened, even if there were fire extinguishers, even if there was a marked escape route I doubt there would be any more survivors. Many bodies were found significantly uphill of the train.

Are there any other trains with the same set-up if so how can the same thing happening again be prevented?
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The cause, or rather the effect of the fire is known as "The Trench Effect" and it first came to light in 1987 with the Kingscross fire (as I posted on the other thread on this topic). As a result, any operator of a public transport system that involved potentially similar problems should (IMHO) have reassessed their safety and evacuation procedures.

Surely, with what was known about the effect of what is effectively a chimney, it was incumbent upon the operator to have an effective evacuation procedure?
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
I think that a lot of the people who died, were killed by the fumes, not by the fire itself. This is certainly the case for those who perished in the top station. Even with the doors opening, unless people had gone down (through the fire) they wouldn't have survived. A fire extinguisher, if used correctly and immediately, might have put out the fire, but might not have.
I think that the main problem was that the fire started in the first place, not that the systems to deal with it were at fault.
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
DB it must have been one of the few trains in the world with no emergency exit or procedure, that the possibility of disaster does not seem to have been considered is probably the biggest error
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Mark, as the system was first put into service in 1974 your points were probably overlooked.


Elizabeth, Take your point but the train had electrics and people use the train so there is always a risk of fire (electrical fault or arson). The installation just wasn't set up to deal with it as D G Orf says.


I heard (not sure how true it is) one of the main problems was that they opened up the doors at the top of the tunnel enabling more air to go through and fan the flames. The train then burnt through like a cigarette in the wind. Maybe if they had left them shut the fire wouldn't of spread so fast, but then again maybe more smoke would of been caused as a result.

Maybe the installation should of had ....

1. Some sort of smoke detection and fire protection in the tunnel (e.g. sprinkler system).

2. Internal camera's in the tunnel & train.

3. A fail safe 'return to base' system, getting the train out of the tunnel - but that could mean returning a buring train.

4. The tube trains in Vienna have those small break glass hammers, I trust this train also had them if not then add them to the list.

5. A protection system for the driver's cabin so that in the event of an emergency the driver could always do something (release the doors, drive the train etc).

It's a dam shame that it's takes 155 lives to realize these things.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Good points DB, however, a "return to base" system would only have worked for the bottom car......the top station was still in the tunnel.

As I understand, they opened the doors at the top to evacuate the people who were waiting in the top station.....at least one of whom was killed by the fumes.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Just to add more information / confusion .....

http://www.funimag.com/funimag18/Funimag-Kaprun03.htm

Taken from the above link (in Euro English) -

"What happened in the Kaprun tunnel?
There were the words of the engineer: "We have a switch-off" This meant the break in electricity supply. He told it via train-phone to the engineer in the top-station who died by a smoke-intoxication afterwards.

How do you know this? Are the phone calls recorded?
No, a worker heard the call and told it immediatly the operating-director. The director wanted to reverse the train (out of the tunnel). But at this time the doors obviously have been already opened and most of the passengers outside the cabin. They would have been endangered by the downhill running train.

How can start a fire in the train theoretically?
We don't know. I can´t imagine, that it was the fault of the electric installation. In the train we have only 24 Volt wiring, which are in very safe condition (?). In the rear part of the train, where the fire started, only a part of the signalling equipment was installed.

How the fire caused the switch-off?
We don´t know that too. The survivours told, that for a while the light still was on after the train stopped.

Waiting persons in the bottom station report a big bang.
Yes, a cable loosened, because it became too hot. But the 5cm thick pulling-cable is still in stable condition, although it was totally smothered.

Why was not there any fire extinguishers?
There are extinguishers in both engineer´s room in the bottom and in the top stations. (not in the cabins of the funicular !?)
Why not in the train and in the tunnel?
That´s no "must" by legislation an it was therefore not planned."
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Typical, legislation did not say they had to be fitted so to save costs (I guess) they didn't fit them !
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