A fire on a freight train in the Hanover region today caused major disruptions to national rail traffic. The railway line between Hanover and Minden in North Rhine-Westphalia has not been passable since the morning. The closure resulted in delays and some cancellations in Deutsche Bahn’s long-distance services, a spokesman said. In the evening a track was reopened to traffic.

Connections from Berlin to Cologne and Amsterdam were also affected. The spokesman said he does not expect train traffic on the route to resume on Tuesday. Railway experts would first have to check the overhead lines, tracks and track bed for damage.

Several overhead lines broken

According to the Federal Police, the driver of a freight train on the way from Rotterdam to Lehrte stopped the train early in the morning around 2:30 a.m. He reported an arc flash. In addition, the overhead line fell onto the track in front of him. A freight wagon caught fire with the risk that the flames could have spread to neighboring wagons that were loaded with hazardous substances. The fire department prevented that.

When the first emergency services arrived, the freight car was fully ablaze, the Wunstorf fire department said. Several overhead lines were broken. According to the information, a total of 180 firefighters were on duty. Around 60 direct residents of the railway line had to leave their homes. They were looked after in a school by the Johanniter Wunstorf.

Cause unclear

The extinguishing work was finished in the morning. A federal police spokesman said the overhead line may have been damaged. There could be various reasons for this: For example, animals could have damaged the contact wire or damage could have been caused by a defective pantograph.

IC and ICE trains between Hamm, Bielefeld and Hanover were rerouted with a travel time extension of around 120 minutes. Intercity connections between Amsterdam and Berlin were canceled between Bad Bentheim and Amsterdam. ICE sprinters – without stopping between Cologne and Berlin – were completely canceled.

The railway offers its passengers goodwill rules for tickets with a train connection, said the railway spokesman. Travelers should inform themselves online or by telephone before starting their journey.