Overhead Wire Explosion Closes Amsterdam-Haarlem Line – Eye-witness Account

July 18, 2008

Damaged Railion Loco outside Sloterdijk station

Damaged Railion Loco outside Sloterdijk station

It was the sound of high-voltage arcing that first caught my attention, then the white flare of sparks coming from the locomotive’s pantagraph showering along the track. As I continued to cycle under the rail bridge on the Seineweg near Amsterdam Westpoort today at about I thought it sounded like a small flash over, perhaps due to a gap in the catenary, or ice or water on the wire, but dismissed that as it was dry and fine.

Quickly stopping I turned to see the intense white arcing carried was still coming from the top of the loco, getting louder until finally with a loud bang the pantographs pickup exploded in two pieces, splitting down the middle. This broke the contact, and the power to the engine – immediately the brakes went on, and the long string of wagons starting to slow and come to a halt. Scarily, the accident left some cables dangling which brushed against the side of the wagons as they slowed. More sparks could be seen and arcing heard as the live conductors touched the trucks.

The drama, which happened at around 1130 today was all over in seconds. Some other people stopped their cars and one man phoned the railway.

I snapped a photo of the wires dangling down – you can see where the wires supporting the main cable broke, and the lack of support bracket.

The cause of the accident appeared to be a damaged pantograph further down the track, which resulted in the arcing, which eventually resulted in explosion and damage to the overhead lines.

I cycled by about two hours later and there was no sign of activitity at the explosion site, but further down to Sloterdijk I could see some men and equipment out. I saw the loco, and if you look carefully in the photo you can see the wrecked pickup gear on the top of the engine. No trains were running, so I guess it will be a long commute to Haarlem today.

Damage to pantograph and pickup - closeup

Damage to pantograph and pickup - closeupDamaged Railion Loco outside Sloterdijk station

Overhead line damage

Overhead line damage

Damage to overhead lines at Seineweg brug, near Sloterdijk

Damage to overhead lines at Seineweg brug, near Sloterdijk

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