Scores Dead in Galicia Rail Crash

Jul 24th, 2013 | Posted by

Earlier today an Alvia high speed train operated by Spain’s RENFE crashed near Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, killing at least 77 people at the time of this writing. It is the worst rail disaster in Spain in at least 40 years and one of the worst crashes involving high speed rail ever.

The Alvia trains operated by RENFE are not the AVE bullet trains. This train appears to have been a RENFE Class S730 train built by Talgo and Bombardier. The top speed for the RENFE Class S730 is 250 km/h on standard gauge and 220 km/h on the Iberian gauge. The top speed for the AVE trains is 350 km/h.

It’s still too early to definitively say what happened to cause this crash. Numerous reports claim the train was traveling at a high rate of speed. A derailment into a curve would be consistent with a speed that is too high for the given conditions.

Regardless of the specific cause, the crash will almost certainly have major ramifications for high speed rail in Spain. The 2011 Wenzhou high speed rail crash took place two years ago yesterday, and has led to major changes in Chinese high speed rail policy. Spain has been aggressively expanding its own high speed rail systems, and though it’s been at it longer than China, a crash this deadly will cause some kind of political fallout.

For now, the attention of Spain is on rescuing all the victims and saving lives. But in a country where the Prime Minister is already under fire and both major political parties are facing a wave of voter anger over prolonged economic weakness, a crash like this is sure to have some broader impact.

UPDATE: There is now video of the crash. The derailment looks to have occurred just as the train entered the curve, with the car right behind the locomotive being the first to obviously get out of position. This will fuel speculation, based on early reports, that the train was going too fast at the time it entered the curve.

Tags: ,
  1. Useless
    Jul 25th, 2013 at 03:25

    Rest in Piece for all those who died in the crash, but this incident shows that the US high-speed train body strength rule must be stronger that the UIC rule to reduce fatalities like this.

    Another interesting observation is that both Talgo and Bombardier are affected by this accident, which would reduce the qualified bidders in Brazil to just four, Mitsui(offering one of Shinkansen models), Siemens, Rotem, and Alstom.

    Useless Reply:

    Sorry for the misspelling “Piece”, I meant “Peace” but I just woke up, so..

    Useless Reply:

    Excessive speeds may have caused Spain train crash

    “at the spot where the train derailed, the speed limit is 80 kilometers (50 miles) per hour, but the train may have been traveling in excess of 180 kph. The report said that at this spot of the tracks, which curve sharply coming out of a tunnel, the train needs to brake and drop quickly to 80 kph from a much higher speed.”

    Paul Druce Reply:

    Rest in Piece for all those who died in the crash, but this incident shows that the US high-speed train body strength rule must be stronger that the UIC rule to reduce fatalities like this.

    No it doesn’t because you physically cannot reduce the fatalities in this; most of them are going to be from contacting the interior after violent deceleration or fire from the diesel.

    thatbruce Reply:

    @Paul Druce:

    What’s an electric train doing carrying a large quantity of diesel fuel?

    Paul Druce Reply:

    It was a bimode train.

    thatbruce Reply:

    And the video of the crash itself suggests that the heavier generator car, behind the lead engine unit, was the one that came off the tracks first.

    Peter Reply:

    This was an electro-diesel hybrid train, actually.

    Peter Reply:

    Shilling for Rotem again, are we?

    Looks like the CEM design of the Talgo cars prevented most telescoping. Except for one or two cars, they look to be mostly intact. Given that the cars smashed into the wall, claiming that increased buff strength would have prevented fatalities seems pretty ridiculous.

    Useless Reply:

    @ Peter

    The recent Metro North head-on collision at Connecticut would prove otherwise. The buff strength of those FRA-compliant rolling stocks saved many lives. After all, passengers have zero chance of survival if the train car’s structure is breached.

    While many argue that buff strength is not necessary in PTC enabled corridors, these kind of accidents prove otherwise, because no amount of PTC will save you from derailments and head on collisions.

    Peter Reply:


    Peter Reply:

    The Metro North collision happened when a train traveling 23 mph collided off-center with a derailed train going zero mph. And both cars included CEM features in their designs.

    I’d interested to see what a classic, buff-strength-only FRA train would look like after derailing at 190 km/h and slamming sideways into a wall. I doubt there would be any survivors.

    Joey Reply:

    And Chatsworth showed us that FRA-style crash regulations don’t actually help.

    wdobner Reply:

    What would Bombardier or Talgo have to do with this accident? It’s on a legacy line far from the AVE HSLs, and the line was likely equipped with the old ASFA intermittent cab signal/signal enforcement system. That system is fine for enforcing signal aspects, but does not provide the same continuous cab signal and speed enforcement as TVM430, LZB, ERTMS Level 2 or 3, or even the old PRR pulse code. But the engineer did not violate a signal. He was, by his admission, exceeding the authorized speed by a very wide margin, and RENFE’s signal system likely had no way to identify his violation. How could either manufacturer be held accountable for what appears to be the wanton misuse of their equipment by either RENFE or their engineer?

    This situation is very different from the Chinese HSR crash because that was a failure of the signal system and was perhaps indicative of the quality of their system. The RENFE crash may be a failure of their signalling system, but they’re not attempting to sell AFSA with their high speed lines, while China is packaging CTCS right alongside their high speed rail offerings.

    As an aside, I think ETCS Level 1 can use balises to relay maximum authorized speed information to the train in the absence of continuous cab signalling so the system can then enforce the MAS. But I don’t know whether the speed relayed would be variable and related to the speed authorized by the signal aspect, or a fixed amount based on the civil speed limits created by track geometry.

    Useless Reply:

    The Locomotives are from Bombardier, and coaches are from Talgo. So both get disqualified from the Brazilian HSR bidding which requires bidders to have no fatal HSR accidents within 5 years. The Brazilian authorities cannot look away on behalf of Bombardier and Talgo while disqualifying the Chinese under the same rule. UIC considers trains running at or faster than 250 km/hr to be of “High Speed”, so the train model involved in the accident was a high speed train model because its top speed was 250 km/hr.

    Useless Reply:

    Canada’s Bombardier joins probe into Spain train crash

    Canadian manufacturer Bombardier has joined the investigation of the deadly train derailment in Spain that involved one of its locomotives.

    Marc Laforge, spokesman for the company’s rail division, told AFP it has “dispatched people to the site to help in any way possible, and of course to collaborate with the investigation.”
    Bombardier was part of a consortium led by Spain’s Patentes Talgo which won a contract in 2004 to supply Spain’s national rail network Renfe with 44 high speed trains for 188 million euros.
    Bombardier supplied the locomotives capable of reaching speeds of up to 250 kilometers per hour (150 mph) while Talgo supplied the chassis, brakes and other components.

    wdobner Reply:

    Again, that depends on how Brazil chooses to interpret their own rule. If the Brazilians ultimately want to purchase from Bombardier or Talgo they can undoubtedly find loopholes. It seems highly unlikely these rules are nearly as cut-and-dried as you’d have us believe.

    Useless Reply:

    And face the massive Chinese protest, which is something Brazil would rather not do. Brazil then has to accept both the Chinese and Bombardier/Talgo, or reject all.

    Beside, the favorite of the Brazilian contest aren’t Bombardier and Talgo, so it is of little loss to the Brazilian authorities.

    wdobner Reply:

    As I said, it seems unlikely the Brazilians would paint themselves into a corner with their bidder requirements. There is undoubtedly room for them to interpret precisely what is meant by a manufacturer having a fatal crash. Certainly we don’t penalize Boeing, Airbus, Bombardier, or Embraer for pilot error. The Brazilians will interpret their requirements to maximize the benefit to themselves. If that means that they’ll accept bids from Talgo or BBD which are substantially lower cost than the other bidders, then I’m sure they can find technicalities to work around their prior statements. There is little in common here with the Chinese crash, and plenty of room to work within to silence any possible protests from CRC.

    Useless Reply:

    The definition of fatal accident as used by Brazilian officials means employees and passengers onboard the train dying as the result of the train accident. The whole idea is that the lives of passengers inside the train must be protected under “any circumstancse” even if the accident was caused by an unforeseen external factor like a stalled truck at the at-grade crossing.

    The Wenzhou crash, and this Spanish crash should have been prevented by the automatic safety systems but these systems did not to function properly, so the vendors cannot escape from their liabilities. And from the safety perspective the Spanish crash is no different from the Wenzhou crash, caused by the safety system failures that failed to override human errors.

    After all, China yields far greater diplomatic influences on Brazil than either Canada or Spain does, yet China could not avoid the ban on its vendors. Don’t expect Canadian and Spanish governments to do what the Chinese government could not.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    As an aside, I think ETCS Level 1 can use balises to relay maximum authorized speed information

    “International Static Speed Profile” (packet 27) is one of the mandatory ETCS telegram packet formats.
    Its V_STATIC field(s), specifying maximum civil speeds, have 5kmh resolution from 0-600kmh.

  2. 202_cyclist
    Jul 25th, 2013 at 05:03

    This is sad and tragic and my thoughts are with the families of those who lost their lives and with the passengers who are injured.

    We also need to remember that passenger rail is still one of the safest modes of transportation. There are over 30,000 auto fatalities here in the US every single year, year after year. Lessons from this tragic accident should be used to help continue to improve the safety of passenger rail but it should not be used as an excuse to delay high speed rail in the US.

  3. orulz
    Jul 25th, 2013 at 05:44

    One would think that they would have automatic enforcement of speed limits at those speeds – guess not.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    Legacy system (ASFS) in this area similar to BNSF’s ATS.

    thatbruce Reply:

    @Paul Druce:

    Reading through the WP page on the crash, it states that the bend where the accident occurred is on ASFA signaling as it is in the same ROW shared with lower speed trains, but the preceding straight high speed section is ETRMS. The aerial view shows that the HS section crosses a viaduct, runs through a short tunnel and starts to run parallel to a non-HS section as it enters the curve.

    If you assume (ha!) that the handover from ETRMS to ASFA happens when the two systems start sharing the same ROW, then there simply isn’t time for any trainstop system to react to a train entering the ASFA bounds well above the posted speed limit. I’m afraid that what we’ll find is that the ETRMS either wasn’t configured to bring the train down to the safe curve speed before leaving the ETRMS bounds, or had been disabled in the cab.

  4. Bill
    Jul 25th, 2013 at 07:34

    I’m sure this has the anti-HSR crowd frothing, especially with the just-announced $500 million cost overruns on the Transbay Terminal. Was it really necessary to release this video anyways? Kind of morbid if you ask me.

    Useless Reply:

    @ Bill

    Yes, because these kinds of discussion is necessary in setting the crashworthiness standard of US HSR rolling stocks which is in the formative stage right now. While it is painful to watch the video, it helps to build safer and stronger rolling stocks in the end.

    synonymouse Reply:

    There was a high level of morbidity, probably related in part to the train’s being very crowded with passengers. The actual cause of death will have to be compared and related to the physical damage to the cars.

    IMHO this crash will make the FRA more reluctant to change its structural standards.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Doesn’t really matter much what the standards are when you suddenly decelerate at 120MPH/190KPH. You go splat.

    Tony D. Reply:

    Perhaps you splat less with our rules…

    aw Reply:

    Our rules don’t change Newton’s laws.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    “Our rules” being the ones that mean essentially zero passenger trains with essentially zero passengers, travelling at essentially 0mph.

    World Class!

    wdobner Reply:

    The recent incidents where semi-trucks struck the side of Amtrak cars and caused rather significant damage shows just how poorly the FRA’s crashworthiness requirements protect the passengers in the event of a side-impact collision. Amfleets, Surfliners, or pretty much anything else with the FRA seal of approval would have performed just as poorly if it had been an Amtrak train flying around a 50mph curve and striking a retaining wall.

    Useless Reply:

    Are there safeguards in place in the U.S. that would help prevent a disaster like the one in Spain?

    Yes. In fact, those safety regulations may be at the core of why it’s difficult for high-speed rail to proliferate in the United States.

    According to a June report from the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a libertarian think tank, the Federal Railroad Administration “has strict crash safety regulation for passenger railcars which trains in Europe — where passenger rail is well established and remarkably safe — do not have to meet.”

    While the U.S. requires the undercarriage of a train to withstand 800,000 pounds of force without “permanent deformation,” Europe designs “trains to gracefully deform in a controlled manner” so that crumple zones absorb the energy of the crash, an approach known as crash-energy management.

    The “buff-strength” for European trains is 337,200 pounds of force, according to the think tank.
    The FRA has other requirements not present in European safety regulations, including requiring that the end of the train have the resistive strength of a half-inch plate of steel and an “anti-climbing mechanism” that prevents train cars from telescoping and mounting each other.

    Joey Reply:

    Lot of good that did the Chatsworth victims.

  5. Dylan
    Jul 25th, 2013 at 07:44

    The train conductor, after the crash had occurred, stated he was going 190 km/h at the curve, and that the death of anyone on his train would weigh heavy on his conscience. This was of course, immediately after the train had derailed.

    What’s worse, was this tragedy occurred on the eve of a religious holiday where many Spaniards make a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. I fear, there may have been pressure from thew conductors superiors to hit higher speeds in order to ensure those making the pilgrimage arrived to the site on time.

    This will be an interesting case to watch as it moves forward. I can’t help but wonder if the conductor will be charged in the deaths of the [thus far] 78 people aboard the train.

    Useless Reply:

    @ Dylan

    If the train conductor drove the train at 190 km/hr in a 90 km/hr corridor, then he is criminally liable.

    Derek Reply:

    That sounds like the Amagasaki rail crash I was reading about yesterday. The driver was going 116 km/h in a 70 zone under pressure to try to make up lost time. ATS was in place, but I guess it wasn’t sophisticated enough to slow the train when approaching a curve too quickly.

  6. morris brown
    Jul 25th, 2013 at 10:12

    Transbay project in $300 million hole — SF Chronicle

    The TBT keeps moving on, more and more looking like it will end up as only a bus terminal, if even that. No doubt looking down the road for a State bailout when all other funding sources have been eliminated.

    One might wonder if Heminger will eventually lose his job over this boondoggle.

    bixnix Reply:

    They can buy a skyscraper with just the increase. Unbelievable that they’re looking for a bailout when they should be cutting costs. Is it so damn important to have a supertall at the site?

    Joey Reply:

    My understanding is that the tower is funded privately. The current $1.9b budget only accounts for the trainbox and bus terminal. Amazing how much money you can spend on such seemingly simple things.

    Reality Check Reply:

    How could Heminger lose his job over the TTT overrun when he hasn’t lost it yet for his role in the huge and ongoing Bay Bridge east span debacle?

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    How much more of the transportation pie does the village of San Francisco and surroundings deserve? And if the construction cycle has moved to the positive stage then where is the argument for HSR as a job creator? LOSSAN alone had $1 billion in genuine shovel ready projects but these were dropped in favor of focusing on HSR for stimulus funds. Glad to know that it went to “drawing board” or cad-cam ready instead.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Stimulus “nowhere to nowhere” will prove every bit as scandalous. Does anybody know what this operation will amount to if it opens? I mean, diesel Amtrak at what speed?

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    I am informed that there is a super top secret team working on a “blended” plan to somehow utilize the ICS aka the grade AAA San Joaquin Valley Sunkist lemon. I hear that the FRA is exerting pressure to use it so that their rear ends are covered since they certified that it was a “useful” segment. Much covering of rear ends and pretense of utility which is strikingly absent.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    It does appear new ics will be madera to palmdale.

    We had actually argued a long time ago that Merced was a really dumb place to end phase 1, as it was north of the wye (a diversion from actually completing sf – la) and the Amtrak station was actually across town from where hsr station would be – making easy transfers not easy.

    Madera at least has virtue of having amtrak station next to hsr tracks.

    Palmdale however…. Any ridership model that predicts positive operating results from ANY central valley location to Palmdale is essentially proven to be broken.

    Joey Reply:

    As far as ridership and revenue are concerned, I’m convinced that the best thing to do after the first segment is complete is try to get to LAUS as soon as possible.

    Roger Christensen Reply:

    Madera-Palmdale ics (or ios?) doesn’t bode well for Merced Maintenance facility.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    A Madera terminus opens the door to switching the IOS from South to North. Disconnecting the IOS to Merced enhances the chance that the replacement service for the San Joaquins won’t be an extension of ACE that flows through Altamont.

    If so, that means that the State would have an incentive to repurpose funding to have a Cascades-esque service that travels down the Peninsula to San Jose, crossing the Coast Range down the IOS and to Wasco where it would rejoin existing BNSF track into Bakersfield. Then using revenue-anticipation notes, they could work on crossing either at Tehachapi or Tejon and electrify.

    synonymouse Reply:

    What does Madera to Palmdale accomplish for Palmdale? It represents a defeat for Mr. Antonovich, when he and his real estate developer allies need a quasi-BART to LA to further their interests.

    The scheme is starting to unravel. The orphan ARRA-IOS cannot help being a political embarrassment of a major order. They have dug in their heels but the more they try to show it off the more it will look like a gaffe. And whatever equipment they chose to deploy will amount to an expensive stop-gap interim. Neo-Acela; bi-modal ala Renfe disaster train; FRA-AAR-Amtrak diesel? Anything they get will have to meet with UP-BNSF approval if it is blended into the San Joaquin.

    The DogLeg will have to be electrified so they are still dealing with the possibility of forced transfers. And we have not gotten yet to eminent domain wars in the Tehachapis.

    Add to that the Bay Area mess: TBT, Caltrain-hsr compatibility, BART and Muni management model failures approaching meltdown.

    By the time the orphan ARRA-IOS is turning some kind of wheel Jerry Brown will no longer be in Earth contact. So there won’t be a household name legally cognizant enough to lay the blame on.

    Meantime the machine and its pet scheme will lurch on, bleeding money. Don’t expect anything substantive out of the judge in Kopp’s litigation but a braindead rubberstamp.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Oh, I forgot the implosion of Deserted Xprss.

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ Elizabeth

    Don’t you know there’s a bunch of people in Mojave just itching to go to Palmdale.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    How much more of the transportation pie does the village of San Francisco …

    Transbay (and Central Subway) are “transportation pie” only in the “cow pie” sense.

    Everybody in any way concerned needs to be lined up against a wall. No question, no exceptions.

    If Transbay were a transportation project it would be designed to get trains and people and buses into and out of platforms and to and from the surroundings rapidly, efficiently and conveniently, right? Since it manifestly does and will never do any of those things, it is obviously and unambiguously and purely a scam to profit the usual consultant/construction mafiosi.

    Heckuva job!

    Jonathan Reply:

    Dear Richard,
    time to learn to read for comprehension. The “transportation pie” in question is clearly the transoportation money pie. The way the Bay Area manages such incredibly low value-for-money is a wholly separate issue.

    Do you think the Bay Area actually manages negative value-for-money?

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    Positive Train Control (Moorpark to San Onofre)d Track & Signal $201.60 million
    Intercity Rail Capital Projects (IRCP)
    Allocated CSR Plan

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    In current traffic Google shows 112 miles in 3 hours

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    Positive Train Control (Moorpark to San Onofre)d Track & Signal $201.60 million
    Intercity Rail Capital Projects (IRCP)
    Allocated CSR Plan
    Keith Saggers Reply:
    July 26th, 2013 at 3:25 pm
    In current traffic Google shows 112 miles in 3 hours

    synonymouse Reply:

    Machine hacks, especially those intimately tied to PB-Bechtel-BART, are elevated for life, much like our Congressional team. The Pope is more likely to be fired.

    These extra costs do strengthen Kopp’s general and historical position, namely don’t build the TBT Tunnel. There is a strong precedent for that dating back more than 20 years.

    Unfortunate, but then SF and Muni are in basket case mode. Their new plan features no trolley bus extensions of any size and nor any to the light rail that I could ascertain. Useless – probably BART has managed to glom on to Geary.

    And Jerry is going to have to divert some State money to BART to pay for the Amalgamated raise. They should raise up the fares dramatically to wise up the masses but it won’t go down that way for obvious political reasons. But as the subsidies and the inefficiencies keep bloating the Bay Area slouches ever more towards Detroit.

  7. Reality Check
    Jul 25th, 2013 at 11:13

    Video shows horrible high speed train crash in Spain

    The shocked train engineer couldn’t really believe what happened after the crash: “I derailed. What would I do? What would I do?” he kept repeating “We are all human. I hope there are no dead people.” Authorities don’t know if the actual cause of the accident is a human or technical error. The 52-year-old engineer—who has been working in the same train company during 30 years and had one year of experience in this route—is now under custody of Spanish police.

    According to Spanish newspaper El País, the engineer was shouting to main control over the radio, claiming that the train was running at 118mph (190km/h) moments before the crash. Then he said it was running at 124mph (200km/h) and finally, just before taking the curve, he screamed “I’m going at 190km/h!”


    Safety system failure?

    This segment of the Madrid-Ferrol Alvia high speed train tracks is not integrated in the European Rail Traffic Management System, an electronic network that automatically regulates the speed of trains across the old continent depending on their location. RENFE — the main Spanish train company that operates the Alvia train and the rest of the country’s high speed trains — claims that the track had another speed control system in place. The syndicate of train engineers believes that the accident could have been avoided with the use of the “safer” ERTMS.

    Emmanuel Reply:

    Why would he shout it unless he lost control over the train.

  8. mike
    Jul 25th, 2013 at 11:47

    From the video it looks like the first car to derail was the technical end car trailing the electric power car. That car contains the diesel generator that makes the train “dual mode” and presumably has a higher center of gravity than the rest of the train. I wonder whether a conventional (electric) RENFE S-130 consist would have managed to negotiate the curve.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    No. The physics of the situation is very simple.

    mike Reply:

    To answer my own question, the curve radius there is probably ~300m, which implies almost 1g of lateral acceleration at 190 kph. There is no rolling stock that will be able to negotiate that.

  9. Emmanuel
    Jul 25th, 2013 at 12:34

    I wonder would this have happened if it were electric multiple units instead of two locomotives? Or would it simply have caused it to crash differently?

    thatbruce Reply:


    Only roller coasters are equipped with additional wheels gripping the sides of the track.

    Jonathan Reply:

    Nope. See: Fell engine. Mind you, those additional wheels ls grip a third, center, rail.

    Emmanuel Reply:

    My point was actually how the multiple engines would have affected momentum because the locomotives in the front and back seemed fine and where only dragged off the rails by the cars inbetween. If the cars inbetween would have been motorized as well, I could see three scenarios.
    1. The same thing would have happened
    2. The whole train would have cap-sized at the same time. Not just the cars followed by the locomotives
    3. The train would have made it through the curve. Even barely.

    But, then again. I wasn’t the best student in physics…

    thatbruce Reply:


    Oh, then in this specific incident, a train made up of lighter near-identical-weight cars would either reach a point in the curve where the intersection of weight, speed and curvature is marked ‘fall over’ and do so in quick succession as each car passed that point (#2), or the entire train would have made it through with some collective cleaning of pants required afterwards (#3). The failure mode seen in this incident where an assumed heavier vehicle behind the lead unit toppled first wouldn’t be seen.

    Jonathan Reply:

    .. heavier vehicle, but presumably with a significantly higher center-of-mass than the passenger cars. Talgo VII coaches have passive tilt. The locomotives (power cars) are a different story, but even water-cooled IGBTs must weigh a lot less than a diesel and generator.

  10. Pat
    Jul 25th, 2013 at 13:00

    Security camera footage of actual crash:

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    If the frame rate of that camera is accurate (in other words, we’re looking at the actual speed, not speeded up tape or electronic image), then I have to say the speed looks quite excessive. The question now becomes, why was it excessive?

    Loren Petrich Reply:

    There are cars going over a bridge behind the train, enough to get an idea of their typical speeds. So that can be a check on the video framerate.

    Spain rail crash: why was train travelling so fast on bend? | World news | contains some estimates of the train’s speed from the video: 89 – 119 mph and 96 – 112 mph, close to the driver’s stated speed of 190 km/h / 118 mph.

    So it was twice the speed limit of that curve, 80 km/h / 50 mph, and the train’s centrifugal force in it was about 4 times greater than for its speed limit.

  11. Resident
    Jul 25th, 2013 at 14:45

    I can’t help but wonder if anyone in California is wondering what that accident scene would have looked like for a train at grade level, threaded tightly into thickly populated residential suburbs, adjacent to major school yards, and heavily used neighborhood walk/bike/drive arteries – without a 30+ foot concrete berm to catch the derailing train. Would have been even more of a spectacle and a tragedy… This train derailed in a pretty fortunate location, well away and well barriered from peripheral life in the town.

    mike Reply:

    This accident can’t happen if there’s a modern, [url=]off-the-shelf[/url] positive train control system. But failing that, it’s a good reason to [url=]straighten some curves[/url].

    mike Reply:

    Okay, let’s see if it accepts raw HTML:

    This accident can’t happen if there’s a modern, off-the-shelf positive train control system. But failing that, it’s a good reason to straighten some curves.

    Joey Reply:

    Deaths of people near the tracks during a train crash are relatively rare, unless the train in question is explosive.

    Bus Nut Reply:

    Well, there were the multiple Manassas, VA Norfolk Southern derailments on a 5mph crew change curve that happened to have natural gas tanks right next to it. They got really lucky and only tore up some parked cars.

    The worst thing was the trains were derailing while traveling below posted speed but NS didn’t repair their tracks until the town staged a class I freakout over it. (And allegedly they’re the good guys compared to CSX.)

  12. Keith Saggers
    Jul 25th, 2013 at 15:06

    thatbruce Reply:

    @Keith Saggers:

    That’s into your mailbox, and not something we can see. Try visiting the website and cut’n’pasting the the url from there.

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    Thank you

  13. Keith Saggers
    Jul 25th, 2013 at 16:18

    SFMTA Weekend Transit and Traffic Advisory

    San Francisco—The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) advises San Francisco residents and visitors of the following upcoming event-related traffic and transit impacts, Thursday, July 25 through Wednesday, August 1. Event participants and fun seekers should check with or call 311 to find out which of the 80 Muni lines will get them where they want to go.

    For real-time updates during the week, 5 a.m. to 9 p.m., and special events, follow us on or visit to sign up for real-time text messages or email alerts.

    On Thursday, the Live Nation Concerts will take place at the America’s Cup Pavilion at Piers 27/29 at 7:00 p.m. Doors will open an hour before concert begins.

    On Friday at 6 p.m., the Critical Mass bicycle ride will begin at Justin Herman Plaza.

    There will be heavy traffic in the area. Motorists are advised to allow extra travel time.

    On Friday, the Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z will be performing at Candlestick Park. The show is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. Doors at Candlestick Park will open at 6:30 p.m.

    Event organizers are encouraging attendees to use public transportation and to carpool to and from the event. US 101 will be congested, so alternative freeways are recommended for those who need to drive.

    Baseball Game Traffic Reroutes
    The San Francisco Giants will play three home games against the Chicago Cubs at AT&T Park this weekend beginning Friday
    · 7:15 p.m., Friday
    · 6:05 p.m., Saturday
    · 1:05 p.m., Sunday
    The SFMTA advises motorists of the increased congestion in San Francisco and advises commuters to use transit and avoid using the Bay Bridge on these dates

  14. erimarseille
    Jul 25th, 2013 at 17:33

    After the crash at Brétigny-sur-Orge yet another horrible accident ; it’s decidedly a terrible period for European rail, but note that none of those crashes did occur on high-speed rail lines, nor with high-speed trainsets (I may be wrong on the second point, regarding the spanish crash, please correct me if I am).

    Regarding the weight and rigidity of the trainsets, in Europe all high-speed train makers try to reduce that weight as much as possible and, even if I don’t want to re-ignite the polemic about Jacob bogies – I suppose it wouldn’t have been much safer in this instance for the train to be stiffer since the crash took place in a curve lined by a wall -, it seems that in the eyes of Alstom Engineers at least, Jacob bogies plus weight reduction, as well as shock absorbtion through controlled deformation on special parts of the train is much more desirable than regular bogies and a tank-like built train.

    Just my 2 cents, please don’t down me in flames if you believe I’m wrong.

    All my thoughts are with the victims of this horrible crash.

  15. BMF from San Diego
    Jul 25th, 2013 at 17:50

    The Spanish train was operating in ATP bypass, whereas train control systems were not being used. It appears. By train operator rule, he should have been operating the train at a much more lower speed. As it was, the train was at about twice the permitted speed.

    The train operator was arrested at the hospital. The operator boasted on his Facebook page about how fast he has driven trains. I’ll surmise that speed is perhaps a bit more fascinating to this person than safety.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Clearly the train entered the curve at a much higher speed that the operator intended, judging from the communications. He had to have done that run a number of times before and very likely using the same approach and practices. Something went very awry.

    synonymouse Reply:

    than the operator intended

  16. Bus Nut
    Jul 26th, 2013 at 03:39

    I will just say this, from what I hear the operator was relying on signals and the signals had an incompatibility.

    Makes the US rules about route pilots and qualifying and cab signals and all that stuff look at little less cray-cray, doesn’t it?

    The deadly WMATA crash 5 or so years ago also occured because of a signal system incompatibility that made a standing train invisible to the computer train driver.

    The deadly Disney monorail crash happened because of a useless roll-your-own block signal system and a supervisor who thought he didn’t need line-of-sight that day.

    Looks like we need a combination of safe, redundant, gracefully-degrading signal systems and well-trained, alert operators.

  17. BMF from San Diego
    Jul 26th, 2013 at 18:04

    He was speeding. There are posted limits on railways too. They have the same authority as roadway speed limit signs. HSR railways also use Automatic Train Control and Automatic Train Protection to protect systems and people. Something went wrong. And, it begins with the Train Operator.

Comments are closed.