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Train crash cleaner speaks out

Published torsdag 4 april 2013 kl 15.17
"I knew it was all going to hell"
(3:52 min)

At 3:00 a.m. one night in mid-January a train from the local Saltsjöbanan line ran off the end of the track. The cleaner who had been aboard at the time was injured. She was also arrested. At the time, the train operator Arriva, and the Stockholm public transportation company SL claimed the woman had stolen the train. Both have since apologized for the false accusations.

The train crash, and the supposed theft, made headlines around the world. And now 22 year old Sara has decided to put her own side of the story, speaking only to her union's newspaper, Sekotidningen.

"I remember that it was the first time I was working on my own. It was a Monday, with a full time table, but my colleague was ill, and so I had twice as much work to do."

"Then I remember that the train started to move, much too fast, and that it was going in a direction that wasn't right. The trains do move around sometimes while I'm cleaning, but that's just because they're moved into the depot. But now I was travelling in a completely wrong direction and very fast."

Sara says that she thought about jumping, and also tried to turn off the train's key, to no effect. She says that during the three minutes on the runaway train she must have been in the driver's cabin at some time, but has a hard time remembering more. She says she finally tried to take cover in one of the older, softer, dustier of the train's seats.

"I think now in hindsight that I understood that everything was going to hell, and that I should brace myself in some way in case there's a crash," she said.

From the pictures taken by the fire fighters, Sara can see that she was cut out of the wreckage on the left side of the train, right behind the driver's cabin, which was itself totally destroyed. She says that there was just slightly too little space for her, meaning she got crushed, but that if she had braced herself on the right hand side she'd not be sitting here today.

Sara had multiple fractures, including nine broken ribs, one of which ripped into her heart, plus a punctured lung.


She says it took her a while to recover enough to realise she was under suspicion of theft.

"I didn't know what to say, that I might say things that were not real memories... But that I should have stolen a train? I never believed that. That they thought that I would have done something that put so many others in danger, that I would have done it as some kind of conscious suicide attempt That's hard to accept."

She says that one of the top bosses from Arriva has offered to come and apologise to her personally for the false accusations. But that she's not really sure how to react. She says that she cannot just forgive them. But that the support from her direct employer, the cleaning firm, has been very good, and that they are helping her with all she needs.

Sekotidningen also reports that the police investigation into the crash shows there were a number of serious safety problems. The train operator Arriva says it has not changed any procedures since the crash, although a spokesman says that "we made a mistake and we're extremely sorry".

And so far the real reason for the train crash is still not known.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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