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Train-elk collision ends in a stalemate

David Landes · 15 Feb 2011, 15:39

Published: 15 Feb 2011 15:39 GMT+01:00

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On Monday night, a double-decker passenger train needed to be evacuated after it collided with a wild elk crossing the tracks outside of Örebro in central Sweden, the local Nerikes-Allehanda (NA) newspaper reported.

According to Ola Nilsson, a spokesperson with the National Transport Administration (Trafikverket), trains run into elk with relative frequency in Sweden.

"It's not that uncommon," he told The Local.

The crash with the large beast outside of Örebro was unique, however, in that the impact caused so much damage to the train's locomotive that it couldn't continue its journey into the city.

"Usually, a collision with an elk doesn't affect rail traffic," said Nilsson.

He explained, however, that newer trains, like the double-decker model involved in the accident are "more sensitive" than older engines when it comes to their ability to survive a crash with an elk or other large animal.

"Newer trains are damaged more often. Something like an electrical component or the hydraulics can get dislodged," he said.

Not only did the accident require that the train's 125 passengers evacuate the damaged train and walk along the tracks to a replacement train, but the train-elk collision disrupted other rail traffic along the busy corridor for much of Monday evening.

Despite the best efforts of emergency and rail crews, some passengers complained about the lack of information they received during the three hour delay caused by the accident.

"I think the whole thing was handled badly," passenger Hilda Bokvist told NA.

"Because the train was without power, it was pitch black in the train cars. Eventually it also got cold."

Passengers from the damaged train eventually made it to Örebro shortly after 9pm on Monday night, and the damaged train was removed from the tracks, freeing up the single track to allow other trains to continue to their destinations, albeit with significant delays.

Story continues below…

According to Nilsson, the fierce Swedish winter has made it difficult to ensure that Swedish trains run smoothly and on time.

And while collisions with wild animals or livestock can happen any time of year, this winter's heavy snowfall have exacerbated the problem.

"When there is a lot of snow and it piles up near the tracks, it becomes easier for elk to make their way up on the tracks, thus increasing the risk that trains will run into them," he said.

David Landes (david.landes@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

18:12 February 15, 2011 by millionmileman
Wow! I have hit 13 deer in Wisconsin over the last 3 million miles of aggregate driving. At least Saab cars are designed to pass the MQQSE test! Scary.
19:36 February 15, 2011 by adshasta
I was on a train from Oslo to Gothenburg in the 90's and suddenly we stopped and waited for about an hour..., no explanation. The next day I found in the newspaper that someone from a nearby mental hospital had ventured onto the tracks. I felt sorry for the person but I also felt why did we have to wait with no explanation for an hour. Perhaps a simple color... number or something should be relayed to the passengers so they can have an idea of what might be taking place.
20:39 February 15, 2011 by Rishonim
Was the train made in China? how is this possible??
21:19 February 15, 2011 by yreka.rica
Why can't you recognize a MOOSE when you see one? That animal is a MOOSE!

An elk is a HJORT.

And yes, the train was most likely made in China. The train was lucky...
23:54 February 15, 2011 by Ivan Juric
This elk/moose was known as hard head by his fellow elk.....

I love my Volvo which is made in Sweden....can't wait to see what the Chinese version will be like....
00:27 February 16, 2011 by BigBilly
Did the elk walk home as well?
04:09 February 16, 2011 by ohlala
I have been working in a train maintenance company for several years. The train on the picture is made in France. None of train in Sweden is made in China.

BTW, I don't understand why some people like to blame on China made products. The product quality is decided by the QA process not the location.
05:13 February 16, 2011 by UScitizen
@ ohlala

I agree. Anyway "Made In Japan" used to be the designation for cheap made products.

Sometimes I think The Local is run by the Chinese government, the way they won't allow comments on some articles is like the Chinese government's control of the media.


Deer are totally different from Elk/Moose. I've hit a deer before but no-way wouod I want to take on an elk or moose. Compairing the two is almost like compairing a mouse to an elephant.
08:12 February 16, 2011 by Carl T
@#4: In Europe, an elk is and was a specimen of Alces alces. Americans messed up badly and applied the name to the wapiti, Cervus canadensis. They then had to use a loan word, "moose", to refer to Alces.
09:28 February 16, 2011 by engagebrain
Perhaps trains should have been designed with large animals in mind ?

Or is it like the wiinter, each year winter appears to be a surprise to the rail service.
10:10 February 16, 2011 by Liquidmonkey
sweden has no elk people.

they hit a moose plain and simple.

and talk about embarrassing for SJ. they should reinforce the front of the train, its not that hard.

i feel sorry for the moose who was likely heading home to his family after a long day at work. i wonder what his moose children will do now :(
10:23 February 16, 2011 by ooh456
It's a moose. duh. I know Brits say elk to mean both elk and moose, but that's because they don't have either of them in their tiny island country. In America we have both of of them so we use different words. The Local needs to get with the program. The world is a big place.
10:45 February 16, 2011 by karex
It's quite simple really, the term "more sensitive" can be defined as "low spec to save money while still charging an arm and a leg for tickets thus generating an indecent profit".

The old trains work much better under adverse conditions.

I was much happier commuting in the old train up until around Crhistmas when they exchanged it for this new double-decker. It's annoying to commute in these new trains. They just don't work half the time, there is a regular musical chairs of doors that get stuck and won't open (it seems they take turns every day) forcing passengers to scramble to the next door, seats get stuck and don't recline, etc...
11:03 February 16, 2011 by Borilla
"...the fierce Swedish winter has made it difficult to ensure that Swedish trains run smoothly and on time." When the winter ends, the harsh Spring conditions will make it difficult to ensure Swedish trains run on time, then the the harsh summer heat and, oh yes, the vicious Autumn conditions also stop the trains. Moose and Winter are known phenomena, why can't the trains account, at least, for Winter? Or, perhaps, the problem lies with the private and unaccountable ownership.
11:18 February 16, 2011 by Byggare Bob
Moose or Elk? - the lowdown - don't blame the islanders.

11:39 February 16, 2011 by americanska
@ CARL T - "In Europe, an elk is and was a specimen of Alces alces. Americans messed up badly and applied the name to the wapiti, Cervus canadensis. They then had to use a loan word, "moose", to refer to Alces."

You are nearly correct. Except they weren't really Americans that messed it up. It would be the Brits as they didn't know what an Alces was.
11:58 February 16, 2011 by BrittInSweden
@yreka.rica Elk, moose, deer etc are all part of the Cervidae family.
12:06 February 16, 2011 by RobinHood
This Elk is now known to his friends as Joe Jordan.
12:25 February 16, 2011 by flintis
# so much damage to the train's locomotive #

Don't know if anyone has noticed but the "double decker" does'nt have a locomotive.
18:41 February 18, 2011 by james_g
Oh dear... 'Alces alces' - don't any of these intelligent Yanks notice the similarity? Alces - Elk! Cervus - er, Elk???
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