Friday, July 26, 2013

The Spanish Train Tragedy 12

You have to say that, if you were the president of one of the companies potentially implicated in this tragedy, the driver would be a godsend in terms of deflecting the spotlight from yourself to him. He's made several comments about his actions and his emotions and, tellingly, these have all been leaked and seized on by the media. As you would expect.

Now, however, the driver has decided to stand on his rights and clam up. Officially charged with criminal recklessness, he has declined to declare to the'inspectors of the judicial brigade of Santiago police force'. I guess he has a lawyer by now. No doubt he'll be asking how the police know what happened - or can even guess at it - without the black box and considerable analysis.

Prestige captain - contrasts enormously with the slow pace of things later on in the process. One gets the impression it's more of a priority to blame and charge the driver than to publish the information from the black box.

Others are not keeping their thoughts to themselves.

The president of Adif (the company responsible for rail infrastructure) has pronounced that the driver should have braked 4km before the bend.

The president of the national rail carrier - RENFE - has said that the driver had covered this stretch 60 times and should have been totally clear about what needed to be done. 

It's probable that these two gentlemen have not acted in concert.


Perry said...


Some additional background.

The RENFE class S730 is an Electro- Diesel Hybrid train with gauge-changing capabilities. When running on the Iberian gauge it is limited to 220 kph, but is able to travel at 250 kph when running on standard gauge.
To avoid the cost of gauge-changing, the high speed link between Ourense & Santiago is set at the Iberian gauge, until the high speed link between Ourense and Medina del Campo is completed ‽ Then it will all be converted to standard gauge.

However, my understanding is that this particular 80 km stretch of high speed track is limited to 200 kph.

As posted in #8:

The high speed line is separated from the single track, but follows its alignment on a completely new track formation. You can conform this using Street view in Google maps. All other previous trains have slowed down in good time before transitioning the 80kph curve & the driver was not inexperienced on this line. It's baffling at present.



Unknown said...

It certainly is baffling. Was there something wrong with the train itself, ie incorrect speed reading, inability to slow down, co-driver at the controls.... It beggars belief that such an accident could occur with an experienced driver at the helm.
Thank you for keeping us updated on developments.

Anonymous said...

Four more questions

Q7 Does the black box record video of the driver and record sounds - Like snoring for example?

Q8 Is there a non-defeatable "dead Man's Handle" type device fitted in the cab?

Q9 Are all drivers searched for mobile phones and other misc. electronic play-things before being allowed to take responsibility for over 250 people's lives?

Q10 Are all drivers regularly breathalyzed and required to provide frequent, randomly scheduled drug test samples?

Anonymous said...

did you see that there are reports that this crash will not allow RENFE or Adif to particpiate in the bid for the Brazilian AVE....

Colin Davies said...

@Anon y Anon

Thanks for these.

Piney said...

Here is the article which should clear things up.
"The section where the accident occurred is the final stretch of the 87.5km Ourense - Santiago high-speed line which opened in December 2011, and was designed for a maximum speed of 300km/h, but with an 80km/h restriction on the final section.

The broad-gauge line is electrified at 3kV dc, as it is currently an operational island severed from the rest of the standard-gauge high-speed network until the completion of the line from Ourense to Medina del Campo, which is scheduled for the end of the decade.

The wayside block system along the entire line is based on ETCS Level 1, while the final section near Santiago, where the line joins the conventional railway, is fitted with the national Asfa system, which is an automatic brake and signal warning system designed to restrict speeds only at associated signals. Initial reports suggest that the accident took place in the transition zone between the two systems."

Perry said...

The International Rail Journal reports:

A senior source at Renfe has stated that while ETCS is operable on the Ourense – Santiago high-speed line, class 730 sets of the type involved in the derailment operate exclusively on Asfa on this route despite the fact that they are equipped with ETCS. All other passenger trains operating on this line, including the fleet of class 121 Avant emus, operate on ETCS. The reasons for this have not yet been firmly established.

Here is the report.

Here is the link to the report quoted above by Piney.

The 15 Renfe class 730 trains were manufactured by Talgo and Bombardier between 2009 and 2011 and certified to operate at up to 220km/h. They are dual voltage (25kV ac/3kV dc) and are fitted with variable gauge equipment, like the class 130 trains from which they were converted to bi-mode (electric/diesel) operation, capable of running at 250km/h on electrified high-speed lines and operating independently over non-electrified lines.

They entered service on Madrid - Galicia routes in June 2012. The trains operate on the 25kV ac standard-gauge high-speed line between Madrid and Olmedo, where they switch to broad-gauge and are powered by their two diesel generators over the conventional line to Ourense, where they raise their pantographs again to use the 3kV dc electrification.