With videoFarmer Freek van Vliet did not hesitate for a moment when he sat upright in his bed after the second blow in the train accident in Voorschoten. He put on his overalls, put chairs in his stable and thus received the first victims of the accident. “You could see the fear in their eyes.”
Van Vliet has his farm right next to the track where the passenger train drove into his pasture. Around half past two in the night he heard a first loud bang, but then he didn’t see that much special. “It was pitch dark and they often make noise here when they are working on the railway. I saw a freight train, but nothing else, so I lay down again.”
Only when he heard an even louder bang after five minutes and saw bright flashes of light shining through the curtains did he realize that something was seriously wrong. “This was wrong. I immediately put on my overalls and went outside with my daughter. Something was on fire and then I saw the shadow of that passenger train standing in the meadow.”
Initially, it was still dead quiet after the collision. But then sirens soon sounded. Trauma helicopters landed in the meadow. Police cars and ambulances drove in and out. Van Vliet saw how the first passengers got off the train and lay down again in the meadow. A number of them were able to come their way on their own, via a small road next to the railway. “Some had injuries to their heads, others to their legs. One woman had abdominal pain. They were cold. Then we packed chairs and put them in the stable so they could warm up. My wife made tea.”
The first victims made a devastated impression on Van Vliet. “They didn’t know where to go. I saw the fear in their eyes. One of them also told how fast it all went. He blinked and suddenly fell to the ground. If you see the devastation now and then make it out alive, you are very lucky.”
The injured passengers were soon picked up by ambulances. Van Vliet went back to work. At dawn, peace has returned and only the enormous havoc can be seen in his pasture. The train drove off the railway embankment. “Very unreal. Like it’s a toy train. What a weird blow you make when you’re in there. And what about that driver? It looks really weird.”
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