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The Zoufftgen train collision

The 2006 Zoufftgen train collision occurred around 11.45 am on 11 October 2006, near Zoufftgen, Moselle, France, some 20 metres from the border with Luxembourg, on the Metz–Luxembourg railway line.

Two trains collided head-on while one track of a double track line was out of service for maintenance. Six people, including the drivers of both trains, were killed: two Luxembourgers and four French. Twenty more were injured in the accident, two seriously.

One train was a double-decker passenger train of the Chemins de Fer Luxembourgeois (CFL), running on the Métrolor service (TER Lorraine) from the city of Luxembourg to Nancy, France. The other was an SNCF freight train composed of 22 wagons on the Bâle – Thionville – Bettembourg route.

They were involved in a head-on collision. This type of accident, called nez-à-nez ("Nose to Nose") in French railway jargon, is relatively rare and often fatal. One of the most fatal head-on collisions in France was the 1985 Flaujac train collision, which left 35 dead and 120 injured.

The most recent accident of this kind happened on the Tende line on 27 January 2003 where a French and an Italian train collided, killing both drivers.

The accident occurred between the border stations of Hettange-Grande (France) and Bettembourg (Luxembourg), near the Lorraine area of Zoufftgen, on a double track section. The accident was on a section crossing a forest, limiting visibility. The speed limits of the trains were 140 km/h (87 mph) and 100 km/h (62 mph).

Only a single track was being used because of engineering works. The line was electrified at 25 kV AC, and equipped, between Thionville and Bettembourg, with BAL (block automatique lumineux, "automatic signal blocks") and IPCS (installation permanente de contre-sens, "permanent counter-track installations") which allow trains to run in one or other direction, the signalling and the interlocking being preconfigured to achieve this.

Both trains were equipped with safety systems, KVB (Contrôle de vitesse par balises, "Speed control by beacons") on the French side and KVB and Memor II+ on the Luxembourg side, which in particular halts the train if it passes a stop signal.

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