Bus-train collision: How could it happen? (Updated)

Bus-train collision: How could it happen? (Updated)

The damaged bus sits next the tracks in Nakorn Chaisi district. The bus-train collision occurred in broad daylight with the approaching train clearly visible and sounding its horn. It killed three and injured 27. (Photos by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)
The damaged bus sits next the tracks in Nakorn Chaisi district. The bus-train collision occurred in broad daylight with the approaching train clearly visible and sounding its horn. It killed three and injured 27. (Photos by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

Police are probing whether alcohol or drugs might be the reason a bus driver failed to notice a fast-approaching train which killed him and two others. Loud music in the coach could also have been a factor. An automatic safety barrier was set to be installed this week.

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Monday evening update

Here's the latest from our online reporters:

Officials on Monday blamed Sunday’s fatal collision of a train and double-decker bus in Nakhon Pathom province Sunday on red tape and loud music.

Deputy Transport Minister Ormsin Chivapruck said on Monday that the crash occurred at a grade crossing where the Department of Rural Roads had installed automatic barriers, but they were inoperative because the department had yet to deliver completed paperwork to the State Railway of Thailand (SRT).

He ordered the department this week to activate 20 such completed barriers stalled by red tape across the country.

Police spokesman Detnarong Sutthicharnbancha said on Monday that an initial investigation found that loud music had been playing on the bus before it was hit by the train. Police would decide if the music made it impossible for the driver to hear the train or if reckless driving was involved, he said.

Thai PBS reported that there are over 600 similar crossings nationwide and it is not clear where the budget will come from to bring them up to standard.

Monday morning story

Alcohol, drugs, loud music probed as possible causes of fatal bus-train crash

Questions remain as to why a double-decker coach carrying factory workers attempted to go through a railway crossing with a clearly-visible passenger train approaching at high speed.

Three people, including driver Nipon Ladathanakrit, were killed and 27 injured, five critically.

Police are collecting blood samples from coach driver Nipon, 32, to determine whether he had consumed alcohol or other substances before driving.

Nakhon Pathom police commander Anuphab Srinual said the area around the railroad crossing is an open space where motorists are able to notice oncoming trains from far away. Before the crash, the train had sounded its horn several times, he said.

Amnart Promsombat, Moo 4 village headman in tambon Ngiew Rai, said he heard the train sound its horn. The coach was seen trying to apply its brakes but it was too late, he said.

The coach was carrying factory workers from a Nakhon Chaisi-based petrochemical company to Rayong's Koh Samet for a three-day trip.

A view inside the damaged bus. There are reports that loud music inside the coach might have prevented the driver from hearing the train's horn.

Deputy Transport Minister Ormsin Chivapruck said one possible explanation for the driver's apparent failure to notice the approaching train was that music might have been playing loudly in the coach.

Unfortunate timing also played a role. Mr Ormsin said an automatic safety barrier has been installed at the railroad crossing but was not yet working, as it has only just been delivered to the SRT. The barrier will be in operation this week, Mr Ormsin said.

Adapted from a story by Amornrat Mahitthirook in today's Bangkok Post.

Yesterday's story (Includes video footage of the accident at the end)

CCTV footage clearly shows the train approaching, but the bus continued without stopping.

Afternoon update: Our online reporters now say the death toll has risen to three.

Bus-train collision: How could it happen?

Once again there is clear proof that unattended, ungated railway crossings are unsafe at anytime.

It was a bright sunny morning with good visibility when a double-decker bus approached a railway crossing in Nakhon Chaisi district of Nakhon Pathom on Sunday.

The crossing was open to traffic with no signal, but video footage clearly showed a fast-moving train approaching.

For some reason, the bus driver continued to move forward slowly over the tracks. Within seconds, the train smashed into the bus, pushing it violently along the tracks.

The moment of impact.

Initial reports say two people were killed and about 30 others injured.

The accident occurred at about 7.30am when the bus loaded with tourists heading for Koh Samet in Rayong was hit on one side by the train which was heading for Nam Tok railway station in Kanchanaburi.

The driver of the bus was reportedly killed on the spot and about 30 of the passengers were injured

Story includes information from our online reporters.

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  • activate: to make something such as a device or chemical process start working - กระตุ้น, ทำให้เกิดปฏิกริยาตอบสนอง
  • apparent: seeming to be something although it may not be real - ดูเหมือนว่า, ตามที่เห็นภายนอก
  • apply: to make use of something - นำมาใช้
  • approach: moving or coming closer - การเข้าใกล้
  • approach: to move closer to someone or something - เข้าใกล้
  • automatic (adj): when a machine does something by itself without needing a human to operate it and make decisions; self-operating, automated - อัตโนมัติ, เป็นไปโดยอัตโนมัติ
  • barrier: a bar or gate that stops people, animals or vehicles from entering a place - สิ่งกีดขวางทางผ่าน
  • budget: an amount of money able to be spent on something - งบประมาณ
  • collision: an accident in which a vehicle or person that is moving crashes into something - การชนประสานงา
  • commander: a police offer of high rank - ผู้บังคับบัญชา
  • consume: to eat, drink or use something - บริโภค
  • critically injured: very seriously injured and might die - อาการหนัก
  • death toll: the number of people killed - ยอดผู้เสียชีวิต
  • deputy: a person whose rank is immediately below that of the leader of an organisation - รอง
  • determine: to discover something by examining evidence to or calculate something - กำหนด, ระบุ, แสดงผล
  • double-decker: a boat, bus, etc. that has two levels, i.e., two decks - เรือ, รถบัส, ฯลฯ ที่มีสองชั้น
  • fatal: causing someone to die - ถึงตาย
  • footage: film or video of a particular subject or event - ฟิลม์หรือคลิปภาพยนตร์ หรือวิดีโอ
  • headman (noun): village headman, the leader of a village - ผู้ใหญ่บ้าน
  • horn: a device in a vehicle for making a loud sound as a warning or signal - แตร
  • impact (noun): the force with which one object hits another - แรงกระแทก
  • in operation: (of a machine, a business, etc.) working normally - ดำเนินการ
  • initial: early; first - เบื้องต้น
  • injured (adj): hurt in an accident, natural disaster, attack, etc. - ได้รับบาดเจ็บ
  • install: to put a piece of equipment somewhere and make it ready for use - ติดตั้ง
  • motorist (noun): a person driving a car or other motor vehicle - คนขับรถยนต์, ผู้ขับรถ
  • nationwide: throughout a whole country - ทั่วทั้งประเทศ
  • oncoming: coming towards you - ที่กำลังมา
  • passenger: someone who travels in a motor vehicle, aircraft, train, or ship but is not the driver or one of the people who works on it - ผู้โดยสาร
  • petrochemical: any chemical substance obtained from petroleum oil or natural gas - สารที่ได้จากน้ำมันปิโตรเคมี
  • play a role: to have a particular influence - มีบทบาท
  • prevent (verb): to stop somebody from doing something; to stop something from happening - ขัดขวาง, ป้องกัน, กัน, กีดขวาง
  • probe: to investigate; to attempt to find out the truth about something; to examine - ตรวจสอบ
  • proof: information, documents, etc. that show that something is true - การพิสูจน์
  • reckless (adj): doing something dangerous and not worrying about the risks and the possible results - ชะล่าใจ, เสี่ยง, ไม่ยั้งคิด
  • red tape: documents, rules or processes that cause delays - ระเบียบราชการที่ยุ่งยากและทำให้ล่าช้า
  • reportedly: as reported (often used for showing that you are not certain that something you are reporting is true) - ตามที่รายงาน
  • rural: connected with the countryside outside big towns and cities  - ในชนบท, บ้านนอก
  • sample: a small amount of a substance that is used for scientific or medical tests - ตัวอย่างทดลอง
  • smash into (verb): to hit something with great force; to collide with somethin g - ตีแตก, ชนอย่างจัง
  • stalled: delayed - ล่าช้า ถ่วงเวลา
  • standard: a (high) level of quality - มาตรฐาน
  • substance: a particular type of liquid, solid, or gas - สาร
  • timing: the act of choosing when something happens; a particular point or period of time when something happens or is planned - การตัดสินเลือกเวลา, การเลือกเวลาที่เหมาะสมที่สุด
  • Transport Minister (noun): The government minister who heads the Ministry of Transport - รัฐมนตรีว่าการกระทรวงคมนาคม
  • unattended: without the owner present; not being watched or cared for - ไม่มีใครดูแล, ไม่มีใครเฝ้าดู
  • unfortunate: unlucky - โชคร้าย, เคราะห์ไม่ดี
  • violently: with great energy or strong movement, very strongly or severely - อย่างรุนแรง
  • visibility: how clearly objects can be seen, or how far you can see clearly, usually because of the weather conditions - ทัศนวิสัย
  • visible: able to be seen - ที่มองเห็นได้
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