The electric transport cart in which four children were killed when it was hit by a train in the Netherlands this morning is reported to have been beyond the lowered barriers at a manned level crossing at the time, according to witnesses.
The tragic incident in Oss, a city in the North Brabant province close to the German border, also resulted in another child being injured, as well as the care worker who was taking them to school, reports the Guardian.
The children who died in the incident, which happened at 8.25am on Thursday September 21, were between four and 11 years of age, and police said that their families had been informed.
They had all been at the Okido before-school daycare centre earlier in the morning, from where the care worker was taking them to the various schools they attended. She had reportedly already dropped one child off and was returning to pick up another.
Police are unable to say whether an electrical fault was responsible for the bike proceeding beyond the level crossing barrier.
Mayor of Oss, Wobine Buijs-Glaudemans, said, “We've been hit very hard. All our sympathies are with the families, the school, the day-care centre and everyone else caught up in this.”
In July, the Dutch infrastructure was criticised in a report by safety agency OVV regarding its lack of action on fatalities at level crossings, which the Netherlands has more of than any other EU member state, with an average of 11 deaths annually.
Update: The vehicle was initially reported to have been a cargo bike, but was in fact an electric transport cart known as a Stint.
Described as being a cross between a Segway and a cargo bike, the vehicles are approved for road use by the transport ministry, but are regarded by the Dutch road safety organisation VVN as dangerous.
The cart has a maximum speed of 17km/h (11 mph) and anyone over the age of 16 can use one after taking a short course.
VVN spokesperson, José de Jong, told the Algemeen Dagblad it was vital that drivers had proper training. “We are aware of other accidents,” she said.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.