A train narrowly avoided a potentially tragic head-on collision with a stationary locomotive while entering a station on the wrong track in south-central Vietnam on Monday, adding to Vietnam Railways’ growing list of dangerous mistakes.
An SE26 passenger train was approaching the Nha Trang stop in Khanh Hoa Province around 3:00 am when its engineer realized the train never switched to an open track and he was on a collision course with another train on the same track.
Slamming the breaks, he was able to narrowly avoid the potentially fatal collision.
While no injuries were reported, authorities are still unsure why railroad workers neglected to operate the switch.
It is still unclear what distance separated the two trains after the halt, but authorities say the incident could have led to grave consequences for passengers aboard the incoming train had it not been for the quick reaction from the driver.
On Wednesday, two days after the incident, Vietnam Railways – the state-run corporation charged with operating the country’s rail system – ordered the director of its local subsidiary to determine responsibility for the situation.
On Thursday, the Vietnam Railway Authority, the agency which oversees Vietnam Railways, demanded a report on the incident.
The July 9 incident took place amid growing public concerns over the safety of Vietnam’s railway system sparked by three consecutive high-profile train accidents in May.
On May 24, a passenger train traveling from Hanoi collided with a truck in the north-central province of Thanh Hoa, killing two people and injuring at least six others.
Just two days later, a train derailed in neighboring Nghe An Province, but no casualties were reported.
Also on that day, a freight train slammed into a locomotive moving car at a station in the central Vietnamese province of Quang Nam, causing several carriages to derail and goods to be thrown off the train.
The slew of incidents led to Vietnam Railways’ top leaders being ‘seriously criticized’– one of the lightest punishments allowable by the country’s employment law.
The corporation later warned that the directors of its subsidiaries would be forced to resign or face dismissal from their posts if the spate of such accidents continued.