January 19, 2021

Former directors of Adif and Renfe blame the machinist for the accident of Alvia

Former directors of Adif and Renfe blame the machinist for the accident of Alvia


The ex-directors of Safety in the Circulation of Adif and Renfe Operadora Andrés María Cortabitarte and Antonio Lanchares, respectively, have insisted on the error of the machinist as the main trigger of the railway accident that occurred in Santiago de Compostela on July 24, 2013.

Both exdirectivos investigated by the derailment of a train Alvia in the curve of Angrois (Santiago), that caused 80 dead victims and 144 wounded, have assured that they did not have any responsibility in the happened thing and that they acted in agreement with the effective norm of security in That moment.

Cortabitarte today underlined, before the parliamentary commission of investigation on the accident, that "neither I nor anyone of my direction participate in the design of the curve and maximum speeds, neither in the construction of the route nor in the decisions for the modification of the draft".

When the department that directed "all of this was already done, the maximum speeds and signs according to the layout were fixed".

Although Cortabitarte was the one who authorized the disconnection of the ERTMS system, due to failures detected in its operation, at the request of Renfe (Lanchares), it has assured that such action "has no relevance to the accident", so its disconnection or non-installation "It can not be illegal."

In addition, the authorization for the disconnection of this train was made one year earlier, in the month of June, and it was authorized to circulate as before on the line, with ASFA, as in the entire network. Since it was authorized to disconnect until the accident passed a few thousand trains, he recalled.

In the same line has been expressed Lanchares, noting that ASFA is a permitted and authorized system and, to mitigate a possible human error, the regulation established that each machinist had to receive specific training on the circulation on this particular line.

The Renfe competition in the case of this line was to train train drivers – a 32-hour course (4 days of 8 hours) – and warn them of the risk involved in using the mobile, so the conversations should be limited to strictly necessary.

Cortabitarte has stressed that, in the case of the Alvia, the machinist was talking 100 seconds by telephone before the accident occurred, in which "any sound and visual impact obviated along the route."

"In spite of all this, I have been indicated as responsible, when my responsibility in this work of twelve years is limited to the first week of December and 3 or 4 previous meetings that we are cited as a security department," he lamented.

While ERTMS is a continuous control system, ASFA is a punctual system and the responsibility rests with the machinist.

In his opinion, the machinist "was attending to things he did not have to attend to" and, when answering a call from the conductor, he ignored the sound and visual indications that he had to reduce speed.

For the former director of Adif, both the machinist and the reviewer made use of the telephone "in a totally improper manner".

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