Disaster avoided in 60 seconds

Accidents will happen, no matter how prepared professionals are, but good communication can prevent an accident from turning into a disaster.

Fast action – and reliable communications – kept a Helsinki railway accident in 2010 from becoming a catastrophe.

Fire/rescue trucks and vehicles in front of the Helsinki Central railway station

Effective communication and quick action

January 2010 saw a possibility of disaster. Effective communication coupled with quick action turned things around.

It's 8:30am on 4 January, 2010.

Commuters are crowded onto platforms at Helsinki's Central railway station. At the next railway station in Pasila, four railway cars suddenly become detached. The cars, weighing a total of 250 tonnes, start to accelerate downhill toward the Central railway station - and toward the passengers.

Three platform guards spring into action. They get everyone out of the way - just in the nick of time. Just 13 seconds later, the four cars slam through the buffers and crash into a nearby hotel.

Rescue forces estimate that the guards had just 60 seconds to clear the platforms.

How were the guards able to take such timely action?

Reliable and instant communications on their TETRA radios made the difference.

Rail traffic control officers used the TETRA radio network to alert the guards the instant the automatic brakes that should have stopped the cars failed.

Only 60 seconds to clear the platforms

With the commuters safe, only the guards were left in the area as the runaway cars came crashing into the station. The guards managed to dive for cover as the cars careened through the buffers and came to rest - embedded some five metres deep into an adjacent building.

This story was first published in Key Touch magazine 1-2010.





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