Public Works Minister Ana Pastor on Friday announced a series of revisions to the running of Spain’s railways in the wake of the crash that killed 79 passengers and injured around 170 in Galicia on July 24.
Foremost among these is a revision of the maximum permitted speeds on every section of track in the country. An audit of the entire system has already been ordered to ascertain whether reductions are necessary in certain sections considered to be of risk.
“Everything is open to revision, and everything is open to proposals for improvement,” the minister told a congressional committee before going on to list 20 points that include a re-examination of signaling methods and the installation of beacons on sections of track where quick speed reductions are necessary.
“The proposals go so far as to consider a satellite system to reinforce signaling,” Pastor SAID.
Minister: job requirements at Renfe to be more stringent
The ASFA digital automatic warning system, part of the function of which is to stop a train if a driver fails to respond to a signal, is also to be improved.
Three ASFA devices have been installed on the stretch of track where the fatal crash occurred as a precaution.
Aside from mechanical issues, Pastor also said the employment requirements for state rail operator Renfe would be made more stringent.
“We propose a revision of the access requirements for professionals in the sector and ad hoc academic training,” the minister stated.
“The protocol of physical and psychological requirements will be revised and the system of recording professional activity in trains will be improved.”
Pastor also said a hands-free communication system would be adopted in the driver’s cockpit.
Seconds before the accident, train driver Francisco José Garzón was speaking on the corporate telephone with the conductor, who was advising him about what platform to pull in to at the next station so as to best help a family traveling aboard alight.
The stretch of track along which the Alvia train was running at the time of the crash is peppered with tunnels and viaducts.
Garzón told investigators that he became “confused” and went into a tunnel with an 80km/h speed limit at more than double that velocity.