After ADIF failed to produce the applicable technical standards in effect at the time of the 2011 line project change, he did so. Renfe’s chief investigator concedes that the driver’s on-board documentation did not accurately reflect multiple indications.
After a holiday break, trial sessions for the Alvia rail accident resumed this Tuesday, and the first expert to testify was Manuel Conde, head of the Renfe accident investigation unit and thus the primary person in charge of the report made by the operator following the Angrois derailment, in which 80 people were killed and 145 were injured.
Due to the driver’s defence presenting engineering rules in effect in 2011 — when the basic proposal was modified before the Ourense-Ourense high-speed line went into operation — the testimony of this previously retired technician was postponed. Santiago, but the ADIF documents the court received and reviewed were from a 2009 edition.
The lawyer representing the Alvia driver, Manuel Prieto, wrote an aggressive letter in which he accused ADIF of “bad faith and procedural fraud” for failing to provide this evidence at the appropriate time. These rules would suggest that the train speed restriction system, ERTMS, might be installed in the Santiago station, safeguarding the Angrois curve.
The lawyer insisted that the experts, particularly the Telecommunications engineer César Marias (who is scheduled to appear on the 17th), be given adequate time to review these rules and, if necessary, revise their reports before they testify.
At first, the court refused to allow any adjustments to the schedule of appearances and sent the driver’s claim of procedural bad faith back to his legal team, saying that it was not the appropriate time to present the necessary evidence. The scenario necessitated taking a half-hour break from the hearing to review the fresh evidence.
The Prosecutor’s Office did not object, and after the break, all parties involved acknowledged that these were the regulations in effect and justified his contribution. State’s attorney Javier Suárez voiced scepticism that such comprehensive evidence could be legally produced.
Trialand argued that the now in effect version of the rules is the most functional for the proceedings and the project at hand. “without prejudice to whether or not it may be disputed whether these regulations are the ones in place,” he said, denying that it was a procedural swindle.
As of March 2011, the project was “quite advanced,” he said, and the prior version of the standards was used. According to him, the rules were changed so that the ERTMS-to-ASFA transition in English would occur before the advanced signal E’7. The court ultimately ruled in favour of the parties’ ability to use the evidence, but he did caution them against springing any “further surprises” on him during the trial.
It is common practise for the evidence that was not presented during the judicial investigation to be presented during the preliminary inquiries at the outset of the hearings. However, it is unusual for them to be accepted during the middle of the trial.
At last, Manuel Conde was allowed to testify, and he confirmed that the Renfe inquiry he oversaw identified no problems with the railroad’s infrastructure or its rolling stock. He also stated that the Angrois curve is not included in the high-speed line because it is part of the traditional network.
Although he confirmed that the paperwork he carries does not match what is on the sign stating when the General Traffic Regulations begin and when the high-speed regulations end (time book and maximum speed table). In reality, they discovered as many as three inconsistencies between the signs and the information conveyed by Francisco José Garzón, with one such instance including a discrepancy of up to 800 metres.
However, he caveated that these differences “do not effect safety,” even though a victim’s attorney questioned him about whether the placement of these indicators could have affected the driver’s decision to brake. After the fact, the State’s attorney pointed out that some of the signs and billboards to which she references can be situated at roughly the right spot rather than in the exact spot she described.
According to Manuel Conde, the engineer should have halted the train about eighty metres before it approached the bend if he had known the train would not have derailed at 155 mph (it entered the curve at 179 mph). Although he did note that Renfe at the time insisted that these permanent limitations be signalled on the road, he promised that he had not been able to locate any rule that necessitated notifying the change from 200 to 80 miles per hour.
When asked if the accident would have happened if the on-board ERTMS was activated, Manuel Conde responded, “It may be so and it may not.” Other technicians gave words of assurance that the train would come to an immediate halt if the engineer failed to properly identify the changeover from ERTMS to ASFA.
Without taking the required recycling training, the driver went over a year without re-circulating on the line.
In response to the driver’s attorney’s queries, Manuel Conde stated that the concrete wall and the gate acted “like a blade” to exacerbate the effects of the collision.
The report he oversaw does not guarantee that he infringed any rule when he answered the call from the controller, but he did not rule on whether the train drivers are required to have the company phone on.
Down the road, attorney Manuel Prieto played a role in getting the Francisco José Garzón line approved. In his defence, he did say that the Alvia driver had only practised on track 2, where speed limits were in place. He pressed him on whether train drivers who have been off the job for more than a year are required to undergo retraining.
That’s what he said. The attorney stated that Garzón was enabled between November 16 and 19, 2011, and he did not start circulating until November 23, 2012, meaning that more than a year had passed since his training to circulate on that railway line without receiving the required recycling course. Other dates, however, do show in the official information, as assured by Manuel Conde. This is because of bureaucratic procedures. This paperwork is dated January 10, 2012.