Preventive measures of the Railway Infrastructure Manager regarding ascertained defects on selected switches
Based on local investigation at Horažďovice Station where a defect consisting in a surface crack on tongues of some recently installed switches was ascertained during regular control, the Infrastructure Manager adopted immediate preventive measures: control of all parts from the same batch, a speed decrease, ensuring supervision and detailed daily situation controls.
At Horažďovice Station as such where the first defects were found at the end of last week, four switches from eight defective ones in total were already exchanged. The supplier immediately started production of new parts which were delivered already during the weekend and installed today. This allowed restoring operation through Horažďovice Station as soon as possible and preserving it in operable state for railway transport. Due to the fact that all tongues originated in a single melting, a global control of all parts from this production run was ordered. At present, a detailed investigation is taking place on the spot with the participation of the producer and the steel supplier.
Based on our data and data of the producer, 160 tongue pieces were manufactured from this batch. Not all of those are installed on the railway network. Approximately 50 pieces are still in stock, therefore around 100 switch pieces from this batch are installed on the network. The Infrastructure Manager examines approximately a dozen localities where these parts were used. Not all of them must necessarily be defective which was demonstrated also at Horažďovice Station as such where some of these parts are in good order. The situation always depends on the specific emplacement and service load of such a part.
The tongues went through repeated control. SŽDC has at disposal not only clearance check-out documentation for the steel but for each manufactured part as well. Surface cracks appeared after a certain time period only. Fortunately thanks to thorough and periodic SŽDC controls each part on the railway is subject to, their starting damage was immediately detected. We must state that limits are very strict especially in the field of rails and their parts. The given situation did not have any impact on railway operation safety. All measures of the Railway Infrastructure Manager are taken for prevention and in consideration of maximum railway operation safety.
For reasons of prevention, speed of trains passing over all these products was immediately reduced to 10 – 30 kph. All parts are currently undergoing thorough exceptional control which should confirm their actual state by means of measuring sets. Now we are e.g. verifying such localities as the Plzeň station head in Prague, Olomouc, Hrušovany u Brna and Modřice. The switches under inspection are being monitored by specialists several times per day.
In cooperation with the producer and the steel supplier, the situation is being dealt with directly on the spot where switches are installed. Damaged parts were transported to several accredited and mutually independent laboratories for detailed analysis.
SŽDC will make a complaint about the damaged parts. Safety of passengers is currently the main priority for us, even for a price of certain restrictions of transport smoothness. SŽDC offers its sincere apologies to all passengers for this situation.