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Latino Daily News

Thursday June 5, 2014

Extreme Speed, Driver Error Caused Deadly Train Crash in Spain

Extreme Speed, Driver Error Caused Deadly Train Crash in Spain

Photo: Spanish train crash

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Excessive speed due to driver error caused a train accident last year in northwestern Spain that left 80 people dead and 147 injured.

The train was traveling at 179 km/h (111 mph) around a tight curve where the speed limit was 80 km/h (50 mph), Spain’s Commission for the Investigation of Railway Accidents, or CIAF, said in a report to which Efe had access.

The report attributed the July 24, 2013, crash to lack of concentration by the driver, who had answered a phone call from a conductor and failed to apply the brakes in a timely manner as the train approached the curve.

The CIAF said the phone call, which lasted one minute and 40 seconds, was excessively long.

The train covered a distance of 5,540 meters (18,160 feet) while the conversation was taking place and the driver “did not carry out part of his normal driving activity” during that time, the report said.

The driver responded to the call 6,000 meters before the start of the curve, located at the end of a tunnel, and that prevented him from braking in time, according to the CIAF.

The driver, who was charged last year with 79 counts of negligent homicide, said in his testimony that he could not explain why he did not apply the brakes quickly enough and that he did not know what he was thinking before entering the tunnel.

He said the train was a few minutes late and that he needed to answer the call from the conductor, although he was unsure if that played a role in the accident.

The report, which is separate from the criminal investigation being carried out by a court in the northwestern autonomous community of Galicia, suggests that signs be placed along the track to alert drivers far enough in advance of the need to reduce speed.

The CIAF also recommends that audio and video systems be installed in the cabins and that steps be taken to ensure communications with the driver do not affect the train’s safety.

The July 24, 2013, crash on the outskirts of Santiago de Compostela was the second-deadliest rail accident in Spain’s history.

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