Swiss Film Selection

The runaway Swiss train disaster 

On May 17, 2006, a runaway goods train crashed into another locomotive in central Switzerland after travelling at high speeds for over 30 kilometres following a brake failure. Unable to regain control, three railway workers on board died. 

This content was published on December 2, 2022 - 09:00

This 2019 docufiction by Swiss public television, SRF, tells the story behind the fatal accident near Thun in the central Bernese Oberland. 

At 3am on May 17, 2006, a 300-tonne goods train with three workers on board left Frutigen for Spiez in canton Bern. After five minutes, as the train hauling ballast and other material continued its journey downhill, the train drivers realised the brakes weren’t working. They desperately tried to contact the nearby control centre for help as the train reached speeds of up to 100km/h. 

After being warned of an impending disaster by the train occupants, company managers decided to divert it towards another maintenance site on a straight section of the line near Thun and let it collide with the other train. 

After hitting two wagons, the runaway train continued for 200 metres before crashing into a stationary train. The three men on board died and the two trains sustained massive damage.

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