Passenger Rail, Safety, Standards & Regulation, Signalling & Communications

‘Tears and sorrow’ as trains collide in Italy

At least 27 are dead and 50 injured after two passenger trains collided head-on in Italy on July 12.

The two trains collided on a single-section of the Bari-Barletta railway in the Puglia region (known as the Apulia region in English) in southern Italy, just before 11:30am local time on July 12 (7:30pm, July 12 Australian Eastern Time).


Photo: Italian National Fire-watchers Corps
Photo: Italian National Fire-watchers Corps


Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi cut short a visit to Milan and travelled to the region following the crash.

“Tears and sorrow for the victims  and their families, but also a lot of anger,” Renzi said on Twitter.

“We demand clarity on what has happened in Puglia this morning.”

The railway is a roughly 80-kilometre line operated by private company Ferrotramviaria, between the cities of Barletta and Bari.

Since it was opened in 1965, several section of the railway have been converted to dual track, with roughly half of the line currently dual track. The head-on collision occurred on a single-track section of the line, between stations at the small towns of Andria and Corato.


Translated: “Today is the day of sorrow and tears. We are together with Puglia and its people.”


According to reports, the collision occurred on a curved section of track while both trains were travelling at up to 100km/h, giving the train drivers little to no time to react to one another.

Several local and international news sources have reported the section of track relies on “telephonic block” signalling.

Based on the photos from the scene, the trains appear to be a Stadler FLIRT 340, and an Alstom Coradia ELT 200.

Reuters has reported three carriages were torn apart by the impact.

“It looks like there has been a plane crash,” Corato mayor Massimo Mazzilli said, per Reuters.

According to several sources, rescue services had to park fire trucks, ambulances and other vehicles among olive trees, setting up a field hospital to access the site, which was far from the nearest road.

Italy’s national rail safety investigator, the Agenzia Nazionale per la Sicurezza delle Ferrovie, is expected to open an investigation into the accident, with train event recorders already recovered from the wreckage, according to reports.

Renzi said he expected an early report to be tabled in Parliament by transport minister Graziano Delrio on Wednesday, July 13.

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