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Finance is the brain [tumour] of the economy
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jul 30th, 2013 at 04:20:57 AM EST
Judging by the update, you have to say that this was an accident waiting to happen.

In this case I am sure that "human error" will be the scapegoat, but it seems to me that if you have a human driving that particular stretch enough times, then eventually they will miss the braking point.

One wonders for instance, how blame would be placed if he had had a seizure rather than apparently making a mistake? There seems to have been little in the way of backup safeguards.

My own experience of driving at 200km/h on the road suggests to me that things happen pretty quickly at that speed - you can miss a lot in a small amount of distraction.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Tue Jul 30th, 2013 at 04:52:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
if you have a human driving that particular stretch enough times, then eventually they will miss the braking point.

This was reportedly the 60th time this driver drove on that line.

Finance is the brain [tumour] of the economy

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jul 30th, 2013 at 06:27:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And could well be the first that he answered a phone call from control at that point in the route.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Jul 30th, 2013 at 05:48:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
200km/h = 56m/s, of course things happen quickly at that speed.

Finance is the brain [tumour] of the economy
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jul 30th, 2013 at 06:33:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The decision to exclude ERMTS 2 from the last kilometres was what killed those people. The way such decisions are reached needs to be thoroughly reformed. It needs to be safe. Regulation of the process on a European level would seem appropriate, because I want to feel safe on European trains.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Jul 30th, 2013 at 05:00:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Technical nitpicking: ERTMS is an umbrella term for the train control system (ETCS) and communications (GSM-R), it's ETCS which has levels, and ETCS L1 would have been enough, or apparently even ASFA Digital.

On your main point, I agree, but will put it more focused:

  1. Existing strong European regulation on infrastructure is only mandatory for international routes. It would be good to force infrastructure managers to apply at least as high standards on national routes, too (albeit this wouldn't be sensible without extra financial support for retrofits).
  2. What one should think through is rules for temporary solutions. As I wrote in a comment downthread, what made both the line and the train special was a temporary solution to bring high-speed service to the province of Galicia before construction of the full line from Madrid is finished. There are other examples of part-built lines being opened with lower-level technology, where the risks can be higher than on a line built entirely to the lower standards.

Of course, the part of the problem that is cost-cutting can't be solved by legislation only. In that respect the Santiago disaster reminds me of the Eschede disaster in Germany, which happened on a conventional line upgraded for 200 km/h, and could have been prevented or made much less serious by any one of a number of high-tech details which were cost-saved (air springs, on-bard diagnostics, pillar-less overpasses, high-speed switches).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Aug 2nd, 2013 at 05:08:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I also added what was wrong with the trainset. So: my argument is that there were faults with the design of the speed safety system, with the implementation of the speed safety system, with the trainset, and with the driver.

As it should be: no accident is singly determined.

Finance is the brain [tumour] of the economy

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jul 30th, 2013 at 06:45:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, and I have seen no indication that maintenance was poor.

Finance is the brain [tumour] of the economy
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jul 30th, 2013 at 08:03:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I quoted that section and your translation of excerpts from the ASFA beacon story in an update to this week's Sunday Train on the derailment and transport safety.

Voices on the Square: 'The Santiago Train Derailment Could Have Been Prevented with a Euro 6,000 beacon'

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Jul 30th, 2013 at 01:52:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wait 'til you hear why the driver was distracted.

Finance is the brain [tumour] of the economy
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jul 30th, 2013 at 03:42:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
El País: El maquinista hablaba por teléfono con Renfe cuando el tren descarriló (30 Jul 2013)
Del audio almacenado en las cajas negras, y cuya información fue volcada esta mañana en presencia de la policía científica y del juez titular del número 3 de instrucción, Luis Aláez, se ha podido saber también que el maquinista estaba hablando por teléfono con personal de Renfe, que parece ser un controlador, en el momento del siniestro. Minutos antes de la salida de vía recibió una llamada en su teléfono profesional para indicarle el camino que tenía que seguir al llegar a Ferrol. Del contenido de la conversación y por el ruido de fondo parece que el maquinista consulta un plano o algún documento similar en papel.
El Pais: The driver was talking on the phone with Renfe when the train derailed (30 July 2013)
From the audio recorded by the black boxes, and whose information was extracted this morning in the presence of forensic police and the investigtive judge of the 3rd court Luis Aláez, it has been known that the driver was speaking on the phone with Renfe personnel, apparently a controlles, at the time of the accident. Minutes before the derailment he received a phone call on his professional phone to indicate to him the route he must follow on arriving to Ferrol. From the content of the conversation and the background noise it appears that the driver was consulting a map or a similar document in hardcopy.


Finance is the brain [tumour] of the economy
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jul 30th, 2013 at 04:30:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Initially, ABC tweeted that the driver "was on the phone" without saying with whom. Now, they have the following headline: Renfe recommends to their drivers to suppress conversations at "critical points". So now the narrative is going to be that the driver violated the driver's handbook by answering a call from the control room.

Finance is the brain [tumour] of the economy
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jul 30th, 2013 at 04:34:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On the day of the crash, Renfe had leaked to the press that the driver "had called control" before the crash and had said "I'm going 190, I'm going to derail". Then later thee CEO of Renfe said in an interview that the conversation had taken place after the crash.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jul 30th, 2013 at 04:36:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yikes.
Talk about multiple failure modes.
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Wed Jul 31st, 2013 at 07:02:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Now it appears that the driver was answering a call from the controller on board the same train...

Finance is the brain [tumour] of the economy
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jul 31st, 2013 at 12:19:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Colman once surmised, and I paraphrase, that disasters generally occur because a number of things simultaneously go wrong.

This seems a case of flawed design with horrendous results. I'm mostly shocked to find out that there exist (parts of) high-speed rail routes left without ERTMS, particularly those high-speed rails that are fairly new.

Thanks for these updates.

by Bjinse on Tue Jul 30th, 2013 at 07:05:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's a rule of thumb I learned caving: it's the third thing to go wrong that kills you. I'm pretty sure it's a widely used rule.

When several things have already gone wrong by design you're asking for trouble.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jul 30th, 2013 at 07:08:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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