A passenger train in western Germany collided with a manure truck Saturday, killing at least two people and injuring at least 20 others, BBC News reported, citing local police. The accident happened in a rural area close to the German town of Ibbenbueren in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia near the border with the Netherlands.
“The train was very crowded,” police representative Jochen Laschke told BBC News. “We got an emergency call at 11:31 [a.m. local time] and rescue team, firefighters and psychologists from all over the region were activated to help.” The train was traveling from the city of Osnabrueck toward the western German border. The driver of the manure truck was not injured.
Germany’s rail network, which is integrated with the rest of the European Union’s rail infrastructure, is considered one of the safest in Europe. It’s also the largest in terms of the distance its passenger and freight trains travel in a given year, accounting for one-quarter of all train travel among the 28 European Union member states.
Germany and France carry the largest number of passengers, according to a 2014 railway-safety performance report by the European Railway Agency. Germany also has one of the lowest railway fatality rates in the EU, the report said.
Europe has not been without its share of train crashes, though. In July 2013, Europe was rocked by two major train derailments within 12 days of each other. First, a passenger train outside Paris derailed July 12 after hitting a broken rail joint and striking a platform, killing seven people and injuring nearly 200. Then, a high-speed train in northeastern Spain derailed July 25, killing 79 and injuring 140. The engineer, Garzon Amo, was charged with 79 counts of homicide by professional recklessness for speeding into a curve at about 115 mph.
The Spanish accident led to the installation of an automatic braking system at the curve where the accident took place.
The Spanish accident was similar to the train derailment in Philadelphia Tuesday, when Amtrak engineer Brandon Bostian took a curve at more than 100 mph, causing his train train to derail, killing eight people and injuring over 200. The investigation into that accident is ongoing, with questions being asked about why the U.S. Congress isn’t funding the installation of automatic speed-control systems that could have averted this accident.