THE first-ever driverless flying taxi prototype developed in Spain has been unveiled and could be 'on the road' within five years. With a capsule cabin measuring 1.8 by two metres (5'11” by 6'7”)...
Galicia rail crash inquiry 'not independent' and 'ignored all bar human error', says Brussels
By thinkSPAIN Team Sun, Jul 10, 2016
A REPORT on the devastating train crash in Galicia which killed 80 passengers and left 152 injured says Spanish authorities failed to carry out an inquiry that was fully independent into the causes.
According to the European Railways Agency (ERA), based in Brussels, the fact that the only party held responsible for the deaths so far is the train driver is 'very strange'.
And the tracks authority ADIF's and railway board RENFE's having been part of the inquiry team was completely wrong and a conflict of interest, says the ERA.
After months of campaigning and 300,000 signatures in a petition on Change.org, the association of victims of the crash finally got their wish to see the report with their own eyes in Brussels, its having been kept under wraps until a few days ago.
A fresh investigation, involving completely different and unconnected inspectors, should be carried out into Spain's worst rail accident in over 40 years, the ERA recommends.
The report by the Spanish Railways Accidents Investigation Commission (CIAF) 'only concentrates on the human error aspect', and blatantly and deliberately overlooks 'fundamental issues' concerning the actual, technical cause of the crash.
Brussels has strongly criticised the failure analyse the accident 'in an independent manner', and concurs with the victims' association that the driver, Francisco Garzón del Amo, is being used as a scapegoat with technical analyses oddly conspicuous by their absence from the final paper.
All along, survivors of the crash and loved ones of the deceased have insisted the driver cannot be solely responsible, and wrote a letter of support to him in response to his own missive to the association giving his heartfelt apologies.
The ALVIA route from Madrid to the far north-western town of Ferrol, in Galicia, was split between the high-speed AVE line as far as the cathedral city of Santiago de Compostela, also in Galicia, and a slower regional line between Santiago and Ferrol, but using the same train.
Whilst still on the AVE track, with a speed limit of 220 kilometres per hour and travelling at 200 kilometres per hour, the driver received a phone call from his boss at the control centre - who knew Garzón del Amo was at the wheel when he rang - just four kilometres before a sharp bend at the start of the 80-kilometre-per-hour regional line.
The driver realised he was heading for the slower regional track just seconds too late, and could not slow down in time for the A Grandeira curve which other drivers have long criticised as a dangerous bend.
As a result, the train veered off the track, smashed into a wall at 200 kilometres per hour, and overturned.
The victims' association, however, believes when the line was built, available and widely-used safety mechanisms were axed and much more inferior systems used in order to save money.
With signposting near the end of the AVE line virtually absent, it is very possible for even an experienced driver to misjudge - but the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) braking mechanism built into the track would have automatically slowed the train if the driver had not.
However, the ERTMS system ended four kilometres before the A Grandeira bend, and technical faults with it meant it had been switched off permanently a year before the smash on July 24, 2013 - and not reactivated until at least July 2014.
The so-called 'dead driver pedal' - which activates to slow the train if it detects no response from the driver, and is supposed to act as back-up in the event of a driver suffering a heart attack or falling unconscious at the controls - had been pushed to the floor.
But this had not been enough to slow the train enough and in time.
Once the case was opened, the judge officially subpoenaed 27 ADIF ex-bosses and engineers and launched inquiries into their actions - but the judge was removed from the case and the second one has lifted the charges against them, leaving only Garzón del Amo facing the full blame for the tragedy.
"The root causes of the crash have not been investigated at all," the victims' association says.
Members of the association have long suspected this may be the case, but were given assurances by minister for public works and infrastructure Ana Pastor that the State-run CIAF's inquiry would be completely independent.
But the ERA states the opposite, and points out that ADIF's and RENFE's involvement in the investigation was a breach of EU regulations concerning conflict of interest.
Pastor has 'lied to' the victims, the association says, and are calling for her to resign.
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