GERMAN Rail (DB) has announced a further tightening of its regulations for inspecting concrete sleepers, based on the findings of the latest inspections undertaken following the fatal derailment at Burgrain on June 3 2022.
The investigation into the accident at Burgrain remains in progress, but its initial findings could not rule out defective sleepers as having been a contributory factor in the accident.
As a precautionary measure, infrastructure manager DB Network launched a nationwide programme last year to inspect lines where similar sleepers had been installed.
This caused major disruption to rail operations last summer, as entire lines were closed to enable the inspections to take place.
DB will now apply stricter criteria for classifying damaged sleepers containing a specific additive, which will involve checking 180,000 sleepers nationwide.
If any abnormalities are discovered, DB says that it will react immediately and replace the sleepers as quickly as possible. However, speed restrictions or route closures may be imposed until this work is carried out.
Further details of any line closures will be announced as soon as possible, DB says.
DB has apologised to all its customers in advance and points out that it will compensate operators for any financial damage caused by its sleeper inspection and replacement programme.
In addition to its own internal investigation, DB says that it has commissioned an independent investigation from an external law firm and will continue to cooperate fully with the authorities investigating the accident at Burgrain.