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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 September 2006, 11:21 GMT 12:21 UK
Germany mourns train crash dead
Scene of maglev disaster near Lathen
The crash has fuelled arguments about maglev technology
A memorial service is being held in northern Germany for the 23 people killed in the crash of a high-speed magnetic levitation (maglev) train.

German President Horst Koehler and Transport Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee are among the mourners at the St Vitus Church in Lathen.

Officials say human error, rather than a technical fault, probably caused the Transrapid train crash on Friday.

The train collided with a maintenance vehicle left on the track.

A heated debate is now raging in Bavaria over plans to build a Transrapid rail link from the centre of Munich to the city's airport.

Munich mayor Christian Ude has voiced concern about the project's safety elements, putting him at odds with Bavarian Prime Minister Edmund Stoiber.

Meanwhile, a Berlin lawyer is preparing a case for damages on behalf of survivors and victims' relatives.

Investigation

A communication failure is being seen as the disaster's likeliest cause.

The train, which floats on a monorail via a magnetic levitation system, was going at nearly 200km/h (120 mph) when it crashed near Lathen.

The track's operators say initial checks have not shown any sign of a technical fault.

The 31.8km (20 miles) test track from Lathen to Doerpen is used for tourist trips and to demonstrate the technology.

Damaged carriages were left balancing on the track 5m (16ft) above the ground following the collision.

The Transrapid train was developed by a joint venture between the Germany companies Siemens and ThyssenKrupp.

The only train of this kind in commercial use is a shuttle linking Shanghai's Pudong international airport with the city.

Maglev technology is capable of driving trains at speeds of up to 450 km/h (270 mph).




SEE ALSO
Germany to probe monorail crash
23 Sep 06 |  Europe
In pictures: German train crash
22 Sep 06 |  In Pictures
Should UK trains look to magnets?
07 Sep 06 |  Business
China maglev train line 'sinking'
13 May 04 |  Asia-Pacific

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