Passengers trapped on sweltering train
Published: 14 Jul 2010 10:31 GMT+02:00
Updated: 14 Jul 2010 15:17 GMT+02:00
Passengers were trapped on a train in sweltering heat for nearly seven hours on Tuesday afternoon, for much of the time without food or water. Rail operator SJ said on Wednesday afternoon that it would offer all passengers 800 kronor in compensation and refund the cost of their tickets.
The high-speed X2000 train, which was travelling from Stockholm to Gothenburg, broke down between the Stockholm suburb of Flemingsberg and the town of Södertälje, where it was left standing for six hours. Staff handed out free food and drink to passengers, but the refreshments soon ran out.
Passengers reported sweltering heat within the train after the air conditioning broke down - the Södertälje area was basking in temperatures of 30-35 degrees celsius on Tuesday. Windows in the carriage could not be opened and staff refused to open the doors to let air circulate, citing health and safety rules. Passengers reported temperatures of up to 60 degrees celsius in the train.
According to reports in Aftonbladet, a man in his thirties fainted in the heat. Another man, reportedly concerned for the wellbeing of his baby, used an emergency axe to break one of the train’s windows.
Only after six hours at a standstill did the train start its slow journey onwards to Södertälje. SJ confirmed that one person was taken to hospital when the train arrived. Spokesman Tobias Johansson said that the doors could not be opened for safety reasons, as other trains were passing at high speed.
“It is naturally very unfortunate for those passengers affected. The problem was that the train was stuck between two tunnels and we could neither get food to the train or let anyone off because of the uneven terrain.”
SJ blamed bureaucracy for the long delay in getting the train moved. The company said it needed permission from Trafikverket, the government agency responsible for the rail track network, before it could move the train.
Passengers were moved to another train when they arrived in Södertälje. But 80 kilometres outside Gothenburg their replacement train also broke down, and they were forced to transfer to commuter trains. They finally arrived in Gothenburg at 3:10am on Wednesday - more than 13 hours after leaving Stockholm.
According to Aftonbladet the passengers were offered compensation in the form of 200 kronor SJ vouchers, as well as receiving their money back for the ruined trip. SJ later said it would pay compensation of 800 kronor, in addition to granting refunds.
"It was an extraordinary situation," the company's head of press, Dag Rosander, said on Wednesday afternoon.
SJ said on Wednesday afternoon that the breakdown was caused by a fault with the train's main circuit breaker.