Friday, July 26, 2013

The Spanish Rail Tragedy 9

Attention is now focussing on one of the two drivers to the train, who's in hospital with slight injuries, guarded by the police. This is under the instructions of an investigating judge, who will determine - as is the Continental Civil Code fashion - whether the driver will face criminal charges. As I understand it, as soon as he's well enough, the driver will attend a court hearing, possibly with a lawyer alongside him, to answer questions from the judge. And possibly the police. This is very different from the Anglo-Saxon process, where a judge is only involved after police investigation and after the suspect has been charged with a specific offence.

I'm not sufficiently cynical to say it's a deliberate attempt - Prestige style - to shift the limelight from the government, but it's certainly interesting to see widespread media attention being given to Facebook comments of the driver of some months ago. The Times today reports that: "One contact on the social network told him: 'Man, you are going flat out, brake!!' Mr Garzón replied: 'I’m at the limit, I can’t run any faster, otherwise they’ll fine me.' When someone warned him he could face speeding points, Mr Garzón replied, writing in capitals: 'How good it would be to go as fast as the Guardia Civil and pass them and trigger off the speed camera. Ha, ha, it would be a fine for Renfe, ha, ha.'

Well, my first response is to say that much depends on which definition of 'speeding' you plump for - merely 'going fast' or 'exceeding the legal limit'. If you're a train driver legally doing 250kph, you are certainly going fast and, while it may be adolescent to confess to enjoying this and pretty dumb to express this enjoyment on Facebook, it's neither immoral nor criminal. As for breaking the legal speed limit, my reading of the driver's original text was that he was joking about doing 250kph legitimately on a track which went alongside a road with a Guardia Civil (i. e. Tráfico) radar trap on it. Again, he was expressing childish delight at the train triggering the radar and confusing the Guardia Civil. But perhaps I'm being too lenient. Time will tell.

Meanwhile, the black box will surely confirm excess speed at the corner, which will surprise no one, but won't, I believe, help us in understanding why.

Given that it takes some time for a train to slow from 250 to 80kph, there should have been an automatic control system some way before this corner. Maybe even some kilometres before it. If, in fact, there was either no system or an inadequate system at that point - meaning negligence on the part of RENFE (i. e. the government) - expect a lot more shit to be thrown at the driver. While a cortina de humo is thrown up around the government's responsibility.


Anonymous said...

A driver who boasts / jokes about reaching x speed when he is in charge of the lives of so many people should be taken off his job with immediate effect, regardless.
His job is to take people from A to B in all safety, no to race or get all excited.

This guy was boasting on facebook, but nothing was done, nobody denounced him. If you want to kill yourself, fine. But take your own car / train / aeroplane and road / railtrack.

Unbelievable, Colin, that you have failed to see this point. Unbelievable.

Colin said...

@Anonymous. He wasn't boasting' of reaching an inappropriate speed. He was enjoying being at the speed the train was allowed to do. Juvenile, perhaps, but not criminal or immoral. And certainly no evidence at all of what happened at Santiago.

He wasn't 'racing' against anyone.

You, it seems, are prepared to hang him for silly comments made months ago, regardless of other objective evidence.

Any you find my comments unbelievable!

Good job you are not a judge.

Anonymous said...

A PUBLIC TRANSPORT driver making "silly" and "juvenile" comments on a public forum on how fast he was driving on duty ...

One year later he crashes driving well over the limit ...

Good job you are not a judge, Colin. In fact, good job you are not a train driver. Or a bus driver. Or a taxi driver

Colin said...

You'll be telling us next that if an airline pilot puts a picture of the sky on his facebook page and then tells us how much he enjoys travelling at 500kph he will be solely responsible if a plane he's a pilot in crashes 12m later.

No other possible explanation.

A total lack of logic.

You are obviously not a lawyer.

Or, if a are, a piss-poor one.

Anonymous said...

Where did I say that he is the solely responsible?

I'm not a lawyer, perhaps you were a piss poor one (I don't care anyway)

Anonymous said...

Hi, I am the driver of the Everton FC bus. The other day, while driving the team to a training ground, I took a picture of my speedometer and posted it on facebook. I was driving at the limit, just to test my magnificent bus and to push boundaries a bit, but if I went any faster I’d get a fine, and I can tell you that the speedometer wasn’t tampered. Good there wasn’t a camera around there ha ha.

If my bosses get to see this comment I’m sure they won’t take it seriously and fire me, they’ll understand it is only a silly and juvenile thing, they will trust the team to my safe hands

Colin said...

Nice. But the train driver was paid to drive at 200kph (as is a pilot at whatever the required speed is) so that the train (or plane) arrives on time.

What exactly is your point about either the train driver or the pilot expressing pleasure at travelling at these speeds?

A bus driver is paid to take people at whatever speed he/she can do within the speed limit, subject to traffic conditions. There is no set time at which he/she must arrive.

There would be no possibility of a constant 'high' speed and, therefore, no point in taking a foto of the speedometer showing 30mph (or even 70mph). Except to say 'Look I managed to achieve 30/70mph today'. Which would be beyond silly. And less than indicative of a someone who drive dangerousl,

Garzon said he enjoyed driving at the speed at which he was obliged to drive - 200kph. He did not say he enjoyed doing anything forbidden or dangerous.

Some of the rest of us would also admit to travelling at these high speeds. You, presumably, wouldn't. But so what?

Your analogy, while amusing, is specious.

Anonymous said...

The driver wasn’t quite probably the only culprit, but surely he wasn’t paid to drive twice over the limit at that stretch. This is not saying that he should be strung up before further investigating.

About my analogy: if he was the driver of a group of “important people” he would have been found out on facebook (because he would have been vetted and “followed”) and taken off the job before any kind of accident could have happened.

When you drive not only yourself but a many people, and you have their lives in your hands, you have to be more sensible than that. This guy, in the light of those comments on facebook, wasn’t sensible enough to have that job. Why wasn’t he vetted and taken off the job? Who was the responsible for this overlooking?

Of course, there must have been several other lines of failure, but this guy not being vetted was one.