COMPANY files have revealed the state-owned railway infrastructure company Adif had failed to do adequate safety checks along the line where 80 people were killed in a train crash in July 2013 – the first fatal accident on a high-speed line in Spain and the most serious rail accident in the last 40 years.
According to the documents an independent safety inspection company, Ineco, was hired to carry out risk assessments along the line up to the bend in which the high-speed AVE train derailed outside the Santiago de Compostela railway station.
The files also detailed the construction department of Adif requesting adequate safety documents from its security department before installing a railroad switch, but after numerous attempts instead called for a simpler document, which did not need approval from an independent inspection.
Ineco representatives said in court they were merely hired to determine whether the line followed regulations and made clear it was not hired to investigate the new railroad switch.
The train’s driver Francisco José Garzón Amo was charged with manslaughter and causing injury by professional negligence for travelling too fast as he approached the 80km/h bend – which caused it to derail, killing 80 people and injuring 144.
It was claimed the driver was talking on the phone to an official of the rail company Renfe at the time of the crash. Just 250 metres before the start of the curve the train was travelling at 195 km/h (121 mph), and in spite of Garzón applying the emergency brakes, it was still travelling at 179 km/h (111 mph) when it derailed four seconds later.
In the immediate aftermath of the accident, Adif installed three automatic braking and announcement of signals on 1.9 km of the approach to the curve to enforce speed limits to prevent trains from reaching the speed that would cause a similar derailment.
The track-mounted transponders communicate with the onboard computers of the high-speed trains and can trigger an automatic brake application if speed restrictions are not obeyed.
Adif is reviewing other similar sections of Spain’s rail network for possible similar speed-restricting installations.
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