Zagreb Train Disaster
The Zagreb train disaster occurred on August 30, 1974, when an express train traveling from Belgrade to Dortmund derailed before entering Zagreb Main Station (then in Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, present-day Croatia), killing 153 people. It was the worst rail accident in the country’s history to that date and remains one of the worst in Europe’s history.
The Belgrade - Dortmund express was carrying 400 workers who were returning to their places of work in West Germany after having enjoyed a summer break with their families. The electric locomotive at the head of the train was in the charge two railwaymen who had each worked in excess of 300 hours that month. At the approach to Zagreb, the line curves sharply just before the station. This curvature is severe enough to require the imposition of a speed limit of 48Km/h (30 mph). The train which was travelling at high speed, ignored a stop signal and proceeded to enter the curve at 60 mph (96km/h).
At the approach to Zagreb's main railway station, the railway line curves sharply just before the station. This curvature is severe enough to require the imposition of a speed limit of 48 km/h (30 mph). The train which was travelling at high speed, ignored a stop signal and proceeded to enter the curve at 96 km/h (60 mph).
At the subsequent inquiry, the driver and his assistant claimed that the locomotive brakes had failed. However, tests proved that the brakes were functioning perfectly adequately. The inquiry demonstrated that the accident would not have occurred if the train had obeyed the speed restriction and the disaster was blamed solely on the engineers. They received prison terms of 15 and eight years. There was some dispute as to whether the engineers were drunk or had just fallen asleep; it is known for certain that they had already worked 300 hours each that month and may have been suffering from fatigue.