Train braking system had been planned

2013-08-08 22:12
Train driver Francisco Jose Garzon Amo is helped by two men as he is evacuated from the site of a train accident in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. (La Voz de Galicia, Xoan Soler/ AP)

Train driver Francisco Jose Garzon Amo is helped by two men as he is evacuated from the site of a train accident in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. (La Voz de Galicia, Xoan Soler/ AP)

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Madrid - The section of the track where a train derailed in Spain, killing 79 people, was initially due to be fitted with a security system that automatically slows speeding trains, the head of Spain's track operator said on Thursday.

However, the plan was later scrapped because of the type of track at that spot, Gonzalo Ferre, the head of state railway track operator Adif told a parliamentary panel about the 24 July crash.

The system that automatically brakes speeding trains is only used on high-speed tracks, but the section where the accident happened was a conventional track, he said.

Therefore, it was fitted with another security system that stops the train only if it is travelling at over 200km/h, Ferre said.

The train was hurtling around a bend at 179km/h, more than twice the speed limit, when it leapt off the tracks, a court in Santiago de Compostela which is investigating the crash said last week after analysing the train's data recording "black boxes".

The driver, 52-year-old Francisco Jose Garzon Amo, has been provisionally charged with 79 counts of reckless homicide. He has been released under court supervision while an investigation into Spain's deadliest rail accident since 1944 continues.

The president of state train company Renfe, Julio Gomez-Pomar, said the crew had not reported any problems with the train before the crash.

"All security procedures were followed correctly," he added.

"We are committed to finding out what caused the accident and we will continue to improve the safety of the Spanish rail system."

Spain's Minister of Public Works Ana Pastor will appear before the parliamentary panel on Friday to discuss rail safety measures.

Thirty-eight people who were injured in the accident remain in hospital on Thursday, six of them in critical condition, regional health authorities said.

Read more on:    spain  |  spain train crash
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