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This accident happened on the first day of my holiday, I saw it on TV news right after switching it on in the hotel in the evening...

The short news I caught later invariably blamed the locomotive driver only, as if a proper train control system shouldn't have prevented it. However, neither the line nor the train were normal, and I think I can add/correct details in the diary with these:

  • The Ourense–Santiago line is an isolated section of the Madrid–Galicia high-speed line (with the parts in-between in construction) which was temporarily opened with reduced-spec infrastructure: broad-gauge tracks (prepared for fast re-gauging), lower top speed and consequently scaled-down train control systems. (Also see my recent overview of the state of Spain's high-speed network.)
  • The train is not a conventional train upgraded to run on high-speed track, but a version of an existing gauge-changing semi-high-speed train which got an additional car housing a diesel motor, so that it can travel on the non-electrified old line between Olmedo and Ourense. It was a quick fix solution built and put into operation very fast, pointing to a less than thorough certification, which made me think of the possibility of multiple brake failure, but lack of ERTMS/ETCS certification is a much simpler consequence.

(Apologies if these details appear in the comments, I only read the diary so far.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Aug 2nd, 2013 at 04:37:00 PM EST

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