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.
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.