Passenger Train Driver Blamed for Collision

The driver of a passenger train failed to brake in time to prevent a collision with a freight train carrying hundreds of liters of diesel fuel on Saturday morning in Preah Sihanouk province, resulting in a few minor injuries, an official and the railway operator’s CEO said on Sunday.

Two Royal Railway employees sustained light injuries when a two-carriage train carrying about 40 passengers crashed into a stationary freight train hauling 20 carriages of wood and plastic products, furniture and 800 liters of diesel, among other goods, at about 8 a.m. on Saturday in Prey Nop district, the company’s CEO John Guiry said. Police said three staff members were injured in the crash.

“The driver was coming in a tad too fast,” Mr. Guiry said. “He didn’t apply the brakes in time. That’s what it looks like.”

Yang Pros, deputy chief of the district traffic police bureau, said the passenger train’s brakes malfunctioned, causing it to crash into the freight train. Both trains were traveling from Preah Sihanouk station to Phnom Penh.

The freight train “was stopped in the front and the passenger line came from behind to stop on the same track, however, the brake didn’t work and [the passenger train] crashed into it,” Mr. Pros said. “After they crashed into each other, the passengers got off the train and took the bus to Phnom Penh.”

While the company was in the preliminary stage of its crash investigation, which would include a review of surveillance footage from the train and a data analysis of the speed and location of the trains involved, Mr. Guiry said it was unlikely that the train’s brakes had failed.

“There are three brakes on the train,” he said, describing a system that includes brake mechanisms in the train’s front and rear, and the dead man’s brake, which is triggered automatically within seconds if the driver fails to maintain pressure on the throttle or foot pedal.

“What we’re suspicious of is the way he applied the brakes,” he said. “It’s when and the way.”

Chan Samleng, director of the Transport Ministry’s railway department, also placed responsibility for the crash on the train’s driver, and said that after a number of railway accidents the operator needed to review how its drivers were trained.

“For the driver, we need to think about him, whether he has knowledge about driving and has he been trained to drive,” Mr. Samleng said.

Deaths and injuries on the railway since it began operations in April have mostly been caused by people or motor vehicles on the tracks, Mr. Guiry noted.

“With the safety of the system and all the things that happen, very rarely do we have human error involved,” he said.

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