The Zagreb train disaster occurred on August 30, 1974, when an express train (number 10410) traveling from Belgrade to Dortmund, West Germany derailed before entering Zagreb Main Station (then in Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, present-day Croatia), killing 153 people. It was the worst rail accident in the country’s history to that date and remains one of the worst in Europe’s history. Many of the passengers died immediately, as many as 41 of whom could not be identified and were buried in a common grave at the Mirogoj Cemetery.
The accident occurred when all nine cars from a passenger express train derailed and rolled over at the entrance to Zagreb's main train station, 719 m (2,359 ft) from the entrance to Track IIa. At 22:33 hours the locomotive entered the station via Track IIa without any of its carriages.
The passengers found were mainly gastarbeiters from West Germany and their families, including a lot of children. The driver and driver's assistant remained unharmed, and the locomotive intact. The locomotive is now on display in the Croatian Railway Museum.
The train was arriving in Zagreb from Vinkovci at 19.45 local time. The driver, Nikola Knežević and his assistant Stjepan Varga, were both exhausted, both of them having worked for two full days.
The view to the east from Strojarska Road overpass
, the direction from which the train came.
The view to the west from Strojarska Road overpass. Crash site is located about 300 m (980 ft) away, 150 m (490 ft) behind the wagons in the middle.
A subsequent investigation into the accident showed that the train at several sites exceeded the speed limit by nearly 70 km/h (43 mph), so that instead of entering the station at the speed limit of 40 km/h (25 mph), the engine driver rushed in with a speed of 104 km/h (65 mph). The crew also began to hit the brakes too late, so that the train derailed and quickly became an unrecognizable wreck.
The driver was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment, and his assistant to 8 years. The court upheld their fatigue due to spending 52 hours working as a mitigating circumstance.
The surviving passengers reported that the train had not slowed down while passing through the stations at Ludina and Novoselec, about an hour before reaching Zagreb Main Station, and that it had leaned dangerously.