Computer glitch disrupts rail services in Europe, Asia

Published March 18, 2022
A man walks near railway tracks after crossing the border between Poland and Ukraine, after fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in Kroscienko, Poland on March 8, 2022. — Reuters
A man walks near railway tracks after crossing the border between Poland and Ukraine, after fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in Kroscienko, Poland on March 8, 2022. — Reuters

PARIS: A computer glitch in a railway signalling system caused train traffic disruptions in Poland, Italy and Asia, French rail giant Alstom said on Thursday.

The problem has been detected and is in the process of being fixed, a spokesman for the company said, adding that it was not a cyberattack.

The malfunctions have caused significant delays and cancellations along train routes, railway authorities in Poland and Italy said.

In Italy, railway company TRENITALIA issued an alert saying that control system outage had caused major problems along the key Rome-Florence line.

Many trains faced delays of up to two hours or have been cancelled because of problems to the centralised computer control system, Italian State Railway said.

The problem was fixed by midday with train traffic gradually being restored and delays shrinking, the company said. Alstom’s Italy branch said that the same problem affected railway systems in Thailand and India.

In India there was some disruption on a few railway routes, but things had returned to normal by afternoon. Alstom owns a 20 per cent stake in Transma­shholding, the Russian locomotives and rail equipment provider.

In Poland, government cybersecurity chief Janusz Cieszynski, said a team tasked with handling emergency situations will investigate the malfunction.

Poland’s PKP PLK railway company Director Miroslaw Skubiszynski said that the sudden outage took place at 0300GMT Thursday and affected 19 out of Poland’s 33 control centers, idling train traffic on some 820 kilometers of railroads.

Because the reach of the outage is almost nationwide, it is clear that some of the trains will not run at all today, Skubiszynski told reporters.

Published in Dawn, March 18th, 2022

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