The crash aftermath

The head of Court No. 3 in Santiago de Campostela, leading the investigation into the train crash that killed 79 people and injured more than 150 in July, has called the person or persons responsible for safety from the railway infrastructure company, ADIF, to give evidence in the case.

Judge Luis Aláez has written that the deaths and injuries in the disaster are “obviously connected” with the inappropriate conduct of the driver, Francisco José Garzón, namely for speeding, but, “closer examination of the circumstances known at which the incident occurred also infers a connection with the omission of preventive security measures”, and therefore “ultimately with reckless conduct of those responsible for ensuring safety on the stretch of line where the disaster occurred”.

In the case of the accident, said the Judge’s order, “it is clear that the characteristics of the track on the spot where the derailment occurred at the entrance of the station of Santiago and, specifically, in the curve at A Grandeira, are highly committed to the trains and the legally protected interest which is threatening the lives and safety of the people”.

In the situation of “danger to traffic and thus for life, and of the foreseeable mistake or oversight of a driver who is able to run at a speed more than the maximum allowed”, they should have adopted other procedures that saved them or prevented this predictable “mistake”, such as a “hazard warning”.

The Judge also notes that the installation of a fixed sign indicating the speed change from 200 kilometres per hour down to 80 kilometres per hour, 300 meters from the beginning of a curve, “is insufficient to avoid the results” of the accident.

He adds that such information so close to the curve where the accident occurred makes it impossible or “remotely possible” for manual correction of inappropriate speed at that time, noting that the beginning of the derailment occurred 220 meters from the sign indicating the change of speed.

Therefore, with the provisional nature of the procedural phase, there has been an “omission of elementary precautions” by those who have the task of ensuring the safety of rail traffic on the line, constituting an offense of recklessness.

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