Swiss train crash gives us the heeby-jeebies

Two trains sideswipe each other between Olten and Basel.

Nothing invigorates plans for a weekend jaunt much better than the headline Basel Commuter Train Operating Again After Crash.   This is especially true because our plan is to go to Basel, and to get there by train.

It’s as though Swiss Rail is sending us a message. We are, however, too dense to discern exactly what that message is and so we’re still planning to go to Basel tomorrow, along with an addendum trip to Mulhouse, France, which suspiciously holds a huge race car museum, although Dave has said nothing about that yet. He may be planning to surprise me.

The trains in this most recent wreck reportedly side-swiped each other, which should surprise no one. Swiss planning engineers have laid track with precision and economy of space so that trains flash past each other in such close proximity and eye-jarring speed that unseasoned passengers (me) gasp in fear at the sight.

Swiss news sources point out in their headline that the trains are running again. This is of paramount importance to the Swiss who prize punctuality, derailment or not. Other news sources headline the fact that three were injured in the crash, and thus we are introduced to a little piece of cultural sway in news-writing. It’s not that the Swiss do not care about the injured – they are the ones who brought the world the Red Cross, after all. It is just that somehow to Swiss editors the trains running is more important than the injured, but at least the injured were probably swept away to hospital in a timely fashion.

So we head out tomorrow to one of Switzerland’s oldest cities, which happens to hold something like 30 museums. Wouldn’t it be fun if we could see them all, but more likely we will tramp through the 13th-Century Alstadt and try to find the obelisk that marks where the Swiss, German and French borders meet.

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