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Grisly discovery only made when train arrived at Mulhouse station - remains of bike discovered at level crossing 40km away

A high-speed TGV train in France yesterday travelled 40 kilometres with the body of a cyclist embedded in the front of the cab – the grisly discovery only made by railway staff and passengers when it stopped at Mulhouse, close to the Swiss border.

According to a spokesman for French state railway SNCF, the train driver would not have been able to see the body nor the serious damage that the front right-hand side of the train sustained, reports Le Parisien. The spokesman added that incidents of this type are "relatively rare."

Remains of the unnamed 48-year-old man’s bicycle were discovered at a level crossing at Petit-Croix in the province of Belfort in the Franche-Comté region. Police are unable to confirm whether they believe the death to have resulted from an accident or suicide.

But according to the website Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace, whose article is accompanied by a picture of the damaged train, the saddle of the bike was found with the body, which it says suggests he was riding across the level crossing when the train arrived.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

15 comments

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cat1commuter [1418 posts] 1 year ago
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In the UK I don't think level crossings on high speed rail lines are permitted.

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matthewn5 [639 posts] 1 year ago
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There are plenty of level crossings on the East Coast Main Line, on sections where the train regularly tops 200km/h.

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Nick T [913 posts] 1 year ago
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cat1commuter wrote:

In the UK I don't think level crossings on high speed rail lines are permitted.

While the train is high speed, the section of track in question isn't necessarily a high speed line.

In fact, level crossings aren't permitted on LGVs.

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allez neg [497 posts] 1 year ago
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Trains - hardly silent invisible things are they?

The tracks are a bit of a giveaway too

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Legin [86 posts] 1 year ago
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While I'm always saddened to read of these incidents the reality is the train hasn't suddenly veered left or right to hit the cyclist. It is always incumbent on the person using the crossing to ensure that nothing is approaching. It really is not that difficult.

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Blackhound [433 posts] 1 year ago
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Level crossings are permitted on high speed lines it just has to be a full barrier with lights and everything, not the half barrier type you can ride round. These are on the slower maximum speed tracks.

I recall a part of the West Coast upgrade of a decade or so ago did get rid of a number of crossings that were replaced by bridges.

Of course, I have no idea what type of barrier was in use at this particular crossing.

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mrmo [2016 posts] 1 year ago
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TBF, we don't know the whole story and there are plenty of cases where people have ignored crossing controls. I doubt the French are any different to anyone else when it comes to taking chances.

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OldRidgeback [2554 posts] 1 year ago
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A friend of mine used to work for British Rail as it used to be known. One of the more grisly tasks he had to do was checking locomotives that had been involved in high speed impacts with people. His description of crawling underneath a locomotive that had been stopped after such an incident stuck in my mind.

It does beg a question why SNCF doesn't have safer crossings, particularly for the TGV.

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Nick T [913 posts] 1 year ago
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OldRidgeback wrote:

It does beg a question why SNCF doesn't have safer crossings, particularly for the TGV.

Did you miss my post above? LGV tracks aren't passed by level crossings, and have safety fences running alongside the entirety of the track to stop people and animals getting into the way of a 200kph train. Bridges and tunnels are the only way to cross a LGV. This stretch of track is a ligne classique, it just happened to have a TGV running on it at the time (at the same maximum speed as any other train is able to use).

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levermonkey [646 posts] 1 year ago
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allez neg wrote:

Trains - hardly silent invisible things are they?

How much do you want to bet?

As part of your PTS (Passport Track Safety) you are taken to a section of railway sidings. At one point the instructor will place you with your back to an approaching train [I hasten to say that you are in a place of safety] you will be asked to glance at the train, look away, count to ten and look back.

Even though the train looked a long way away and was moving at sidings speed it is now right on top of you and you didn't even hear it approaching. The first time you do your PTS it is quite un-nerving.

It is very hard to judge the speed of a train or to hear it coming and this is why rail working parties use lookouts.

Death in this case is probably simple misadventure i.e. He got it wrong!

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Urban_Manc [31 posts] 1 year ago
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Most modern trains are silent, on high speed lines even more so.

Rail unions have been pushing for the removal of level crossings for years, local residents often oppose the closure of crossings because they are usually a quicker route.

Network rails policy is now to remove as many as possible as quickly as possible .

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A V Lowe [567 posts] 1 year ago
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No level crossings now on WCML between Euston and Crewe via TV and Birmingham - but the oild GC was built from the outset with no level crossings - it was closed, despite being built as 20th Century high speed line.

Most recent RAIB report on Moor Lane Witham - cyclist misjudged train speed - assumed it was stopping

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A V Lowe [567 posts] 1 year ago
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No level crossings now on WCML between Euston and Crewe via TV and Birmingham - but the oild GC was built from the outset with no level crossings - it was closed, despite being built as 20th Century high speed line.

Most recent RAIB report on Moor Lane Witham - cyclist misjudged train speed - assumed it was stopping

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thelimopit [136 posts] 1 year ago
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A V Lowe wrote:

No level crossings now on WCML between Euston and Crewe via TV and Birmingham - but the oild GC was built from the outset with no level crossings - it was closed, despite being built as 20th Century high speed line.

Most recent RAIB report on Moor Lane Witham - cyclist misjudged train speed - assumed it was stopping

I'm kind of glad I don't understand a word of this.

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BonerFide [5 posts] 1 year ago
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I know it's in poor taste, but I bet that Strava segment time will stand for some time.......  31