Turkey’s train crashes leave more questions than answers with blame solely put on workers, not management

A train crash that killed eight people still has most Turkish seething as there are more questions than answers.

The High-Speed Train (HST) accident on December 13 after it left Ankara suburbs for Konya. Eighty-four passengers were also injured.

The public’s exasperation with the lack of concrete information from the Turkish Railway Safety is ongoing. There have been numerous crashes in the last fifteen years, bearing no fruit in terms of full investigations and report backs.

Railway accidents statistics of Turkey in the last 15 years:
Date Location                                  Death/Injured
22.07.2004               Pamukova   41/89
11.08. 2004              Kocaeli   2/8
27.01.2008               Kutahya 9/37
06.07.2015               Sivas 1/1
06.05.2017               Kirikkale 1/3
04.08.2017               Baskil 2/0
08.07.2018               Corlu   25/318
13.12.2018               Ankara 9/86

In Turkish history, Corlu was one of the direst and tragic train crashed.

Many crash investigation reports of various parties revealed negligence on the part of Turkey’s railway administration.

Despite former Minister of Transport, Ahmet Arslan, putting the blame on “heavy rains” for the train crash in Corlu, Civil Engineers Chamber of Turkey announced the main reason of the accident was the lack of auditing.

Victims’ families, however, remain unhappy with explanations of the authorities. They rejected the expert reports presented to the court, as they were compiled by a forensic specialist, Bekir Siddik Binboga Yarman, the board chief of a company that handles signalising the same railway line.

Misra Oz, who lost her nine-year-old son Oguz Arda in the Corlu train crash, posted on her Twitter account that she was blocked by Turkish Railways Director General Isa Apaydin and former Minister of Transport Arslan when she questioned to find out those responsible for the crash.

“I seek of justice,” Oz said, criticising the slow investigation process which has encountered bureaucratic obstacles.

“Blocking me, passing over what I say doesn’t cover this tragedy. The reality is clear, twenty-five people were killed. My son was killed! Why are you restive?” Oz wrote on Twitter.

After the crash,  many questions are still unanswered

While Turkish authorities deny negligence allegations following the crashes, their attempts to persuade the public have been wide off the mark. In many cases, only a few workers, but not the decision makers, were investigated.

The Konya-Ankara crash, for instance, happened on the back of a locomotive at a train station in Yenimahalle of Ankara.

Two wagons were derailed and overturned, the overpass over the railway line collapsed on top of some wagons.

Three railways staff including a controller, a switchman and a dispatcher were taken to court after the accident, charged with alleged negligence as part of the investigation.

The radio communication of machinists leaked to the media revealed that the HST, as a result of dispatching negligence, was travelling on the wrong line.

Chairman of Turkish Mechanical Engineers Chambers, Yunus Yener, said in a TV interview there was no signal on the line, therefore the machinists had to communicate via transmitters or phones. The crash was due to lack of signalization, Yener claimed.

Minister of Transportation Mehmet Cahit Turhan, however, opposed experts’ conclusions on the importance of the signalization system and said: “The signalization system is not a sine qua non for railways.”

Turhan’s comments were rebuffed by Turkey’s main opposition party CHP, who called on him to resign.

“Authorities have never taken the responsibility in such crashes. They have to accept their own mistakes and resign,” CHP said.

Some experts criticised President Erdogan, claiming he inaugurated incomplete rail line of Sincan-Kayas, without signalization system, on the eve of 2018 elections as a part of his election campaign, aiming to attract votes.

They argue the Sincan-Kayas suburb train and HST to Ankara direction are operated on the same line. Since the railways had been under construction, the HST departure station was Sincan HST, instead of Ankara main train station, during the crash.

You might also like