Sloppiness caused deadly French rail crash

2014-07-07 20:26
The railway station of Bretigny-sur-Orge, near Paris, after a high-speed train derailed as it passed through the station. (Lionel Bonaventure, AFP)

The railway station of Bretigny-sur-Orge, near Paris, after a high-speed train derailed as it passed through the station. (Lionel Bonaventure, AFP)

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Paris - Sloppy maintenance of a notoriously dangerous stretch of rail track caused a train to jump the tracks in suburban Paris last year, killing seven people and injuring nearly 200, a French prosecutor said on Monday.

The packed train, carrying around 385 passengers, derailed, skidded and slammed into a railway station in Bretigny-sur-Orge on 12 July 2013. Prosecutor Eric Lallement said the stretch of railway where the train jumped the tracks was a "known danger zone" that was not maintained properly.

National railway SNCF and RFF - the agency that handles the rail infrastructure - said that although they had accepted responsibility for the crash, there was no systematic maintenance failure, as alleged in a court-ordered report.

Lallement said further investigation would determine how to divide blame for the ill-maintained stretch of rail, where some 100 maintenance problems were discovered after the crash.

"The high number of problems and the way they were evenly distributed... bear witness to an unsuitable maintenance and not a deliberate action," he said.

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