French TGV train travels 40km with cyclist's body embedded in front of cab

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

by Simon_MacMichael   March 17, 2014  

TGV (CC SA 3.0 licensed on Wikimedia Commons by AINO)

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.

13 user comments

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

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1333 posts]
17th March 2014 - 15:15

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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.

posted by drmatthewhardy [299 posts]
17th March 2014 - 15:51

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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.

posted by Nick T [763 posts]
17th March 2014 - 16:06

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Trains - hardly silent invisible things are they?

The tracks are a bit of a giveaway too

posted by allez neg [4 posts]
17th March 2014 - 16:13

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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.

posted by Legin [36 posts]
17th March 2014 - 16:31

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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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posted by Blackhound [436 posts]
17th March 2014 - 17:04

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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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posted by mrmo [1035 posts]
17th March 2014 - 17:15

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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.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2132 posts]
17th March 2014 - 17:40

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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).

posted by Nick T [763 posts]
17th March 2014 - 18:43

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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!

posted by levermonkey [344 posts]
17th March 2014 - 20:22

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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 .

posted by Urban_Manc [9 posts]
17th March 2014 - 21:39

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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

47 years of breaking bikes and still they offer me a 10 year frame warranty!

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posted by A V Lowe [471 posts]
17th March 2014 - 21:59

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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.

posted by thelimopit [118 posts]
18th March 2014 - 22:59

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