Driver in Spain Rail Crash Reportedly Was On Phone With Renfe
Reports from Spain indicate that the driver of the train that derailed in Santiago de Compostela last week was on the phone at the time of the crash. But before you equate this to the Chatsworth crash (as I did earlier today), read the details:
According to the investigation so far, train driver Francisco Jose Garzon Amo received a call from an official of national rail company Renfe on his work phone in the cabin, not his personal cellphone, to tell him what approach to take toward his final destination.
The Renfe employee on the telephone “appears to be a controller,” a person who organizes train traffic across the rail network, said a statement from a court in Santiago de Compostela, where the investigation is based.
“From the contents of the conversation and from the background noise it seems that the driver (was) consulting a plan or similar paper document.”
That’s a completely different situation than the 2008 Chatsworth crash, blamed in part on a driver who ignored a red light because he was texting on his personal cell phone. The driver in last week’s crash appears to have been doing his job, taking a call on the phone in the cabin from his bosses regarding the train’s route. Further investigation will be needed to determine whether he should have taken the call, whether Renfe should have made the call, what he was doing during the call, and what role if any it had in causing the derailment.
Many reports prior to today had been blaming the driver for this crash, and the headline of today’s story would appear to deepen his responsibility. But the truth may be more complex. A full investigation will shed light on exactly what happened and what lessons we should draw from it.