Santiago de Compostela train crash

The Santiago de Compostela train crash took place on 24 July 2013, when a high-speed train travelling from Madrid to Ferrol in the north-west of Spain left its tracks at high speed on a curve, four kilometres outside Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. Of the 222 people onboard around 140 were injured and 78 were killed. The train's data recorder registered a driver's statement that the train was travelling at over twice the posted speed limit of 80km/h when it entered a bend in the line. The crash was Spain's worst rail disaster in nearly 70 years, since the Torre del Bierzo crash in 1944.


Spanish train driver 'talking on phone' at time of crash

Train driver Francisco Garzon was talking to state rail operator Renfe at time of crash, say investigators

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 31 July, 2013, 12:35am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 31 July, 2013, 3:19am

The driver of the train that derailed in northwestern Spain last week, killing 79 people, was talking on the phone with state train operator Renfe at the time of the accident, a court said on Tuesday after analysing the train’s data recording devices.

The initial reading of the so-called black boxes said driver Francisco Garzon received a call from Renfe minutes before the accident to discuss the path to Ferrol, the final destination for the high-speed train that departed from Madrid on Wednesday with 218 passengers aboard.

The court investigating the case said that by the conversation and background noise picked up on the black boxes, the driver appeared to be consulting a map or some kind of paper document while on the phone with Renfe staff.

The train was travelling at 192km/h in the minutes before it derailed in a curve where speed is limited at 80km/h, according to the two black boxes, which are actually orange in colour and located at the front and the back of the train.

The eight-carriage train slowed to 153km/h at the time of the crash after a brake was activated seconds before.

Garzon, 52, admitted in a closed-door hearing on to taking the curve too fast, blaming it a momentary lapse, according to media reports.

He has been charged with negligent homicide by Investigating Magistrate Luis Alaez, who is also probing whether the train, the tracks or the security system that slow down the trains may also have been at fault.

Sixty-six people remained in hospital from the crash on Tuesday, with 15 in critical condition.


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