VIENNA — Two trains packed with morning commuters crashed head-on Monday on Vienna’s outskirts after a state railway employee apparently forgot to activate a signal. Railway officials said 41 people were injured, five seriously.
A statement from OBB, Austria’s state railway, said initial investigations show that a supervisor neglected to trip a signal after manually activating a rail switch. The switch usually works automatically and sets off the signal but was stuck due to snow and ice.
The accident occurred with the two trains heading in opposite directions on a single set of tracks. The signal would have normally warned one of them to wait on another set of tracks until the other one passed.
The statement said the accident was apparently due to ‘‘human error of the responsible supervisor.’’
Two helicopters from the Austrian motor club OAMTC joined ambulance crews in evacuating the trains.
City officials said the crash occurred near an emergency services station in the Penzing district of western Vienna, and rescue workers were on the scene very quickly. However, because of the severity of the wreck, it took nearly two hours to remove all the passengers.