Rail track washed away by floods

A busy highway and a rail bridge were washed away on Sunday in west-central Sweden by torrential rains, leaving a 30-metre break some eight meters deep.

A flood of muddy water was still rushing under the highway guardrails and train tracks that remained strung across the ravine hours after the accident.

The flood destroyed a section of E14, the motorway connecting Östersund to Norway near Åre, and the train tracks which run just parallel.

A passenger train coming from Trondheim, Norway on its way toward Åre at 7:45 p.m. had no idea what danger was just around the turn. Traveling 110 kilometers per hour, stopping the train wasn’t an option for the train driver.

The train somehow made its way over the weakening tracks as the ground below fell away, but lost its grip and came off the tracks, skidding to a stop 300 meters later.

“I didn’t think the train would make it just by balancing on the rails,” said Anders Gustafsson, a rescue worker who responded. “However it happened, it is amazing.”

Some 60 passengers were on the train. Nobody was reported seriously injured on either the tracks or the road.

Just meters away from the suspended train a track left sagging across the gap was the E14 highway. Workers said it would be several weeks before the motorway could be used again.

“We are expecting a big traffic problem since there is a lot of traffic and many tourists who drive on E14,” said Anette Larsson, police spokeswoman. “It is the main route into Norway and where the road was washed out is just a big cavity.”

Water was previously guided through tunnels under the road and tracks, but during the flash flood this weekend, the amount of water was too much and punched a large hole directly under traffic.