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Society derailed — 15 Comments

  1. My auld fella taught us to drive in a car with no brakes. His theory was that you should be able control a car with the throttle and gears. "Brakes are for stopping" he would say.  Lord knows what he would make of traction control, computer engine management et al.

    • Of course nowadays that would be considered as criminal negligence or even child abuse.  I think it's a great idea – teach someone under the worst possible circumstances or conditions, and they can cope with just about anything in the future.

      Whatever happened to the days of double-declutching?

      • Such car control comes in very handy in icy conditions too.

         Double declutching eh? I haven't had the need for that since I got married.  🙂

  2. I drove trains for eleven years, both freight and high speed passenger trains. The driver of this HST is a complete fucking lunatic. You can see from the curvature of the track and the cant of the rails that he was definitely speeding. I would not even class this as manslaughter, I view it as wilfull negligence and as such he should be charged with murder. Every driver sometimes slips over the speed limit, but not by 110kmh! Also before being authorised to drive any train over any route you must have learned that route off by heart, this includes all speeds, signals, junctions, sidings, stations and neutral sections for electrics. You are then examined (like a driving test) for the route and you must pass the test before you are authorised to drive that route. This is murder not manslaughter, strong words I know but it is how I feel regarding this terrible incident.

    • Correct me if I'm wrong but any experienced driver would know that the limits are there for a very valid reason and that to exceed them by any amount is going to end in disaster?  It would be like a pilot putting a 747 into a dive knowing that it would almost definitely pull the wings off!  I just cannot imagine any driver being reckless enough [or suicidal enough] to drive at that sped intentionally?

      • I am actually very angry about this. This is not a lapse in concentration GD, never can be. He knew fine well that he should have been reducing speed in the tunnel to get down to the rail speed upon exiting the tunnel. For those that might say well how do you know how long the tunnel is and when to start braking to reduce speed, you have mile posts at the side of the rail, km posts or marked on walls etc. You must also know the length of the tunnel before signing for the route. I meant to add "by signing for the route", the driver takes full legal responsibility for driving the train over that route.

        Definitely not carelesness in my mind. The only other explanation is that he fell asleep. However there is a DSD (drivers safety device)or dead mans pedal as we call it in the uk. It emits loud bleeps every 3 seconds and you must physically cancel it by depressing a foot pedal. There is also AWS (automatic warning sytem) which is both audible, if you have a cautionary signal say two yellow, one yellow or a signal at danger. If an audible warning is received reference a cautionary signal then this must also be acknowledged manually. There is also another system called TPS (train protection system) It automatically activates brakes on any train that has passed a signal at danger or is overspeeding. I do not know if this system is used on Spanish trains. To me this smacks of wilfull negligence.

        • I am not trying to be judge or jury here.  I'm just trying to sort in my own mind how such a tragedy could occur.

          I have to disagree with you about the concentration.  Eliminating deliberate bravado and sleep [the latter as you rightly say is impossible] the only plausible answer is that he wasn't concentrating fully and was relying on the various automated systems to warn him when his attention was required. 

          I'm not making any excuses for him.  He should have been 100% alert and on the ball, but which of us hasn't gone into a daydream behind the wheel of a car when on a familiar journey?  It is wrong.  We know it's wrong and we don't do it intentionally, but it does happen.  It is all too easy to relax and become complacent particularly if there is the subconscious thought that there is a "safety override".  I just think it is more than a coincidence that the automated signaling system ceased a few kilometers before the accident site?

  3. You are missing one very important thing here GD. There were two drivers in the driving cab. This used to be normal with HST in the UK up until circa 1997. I know some drivers who were considered crazy for going 20mph above the limit. I do not know of any drivers that would run 110 kmph above the limit.

    Concentration has to be totla with a HST and even more so with a freight train with perhaps 2,500 tons shoving up yer arse. freight takes longer to stop. As an instance at 125 mph with a HST passenger train it would take you 1 and 3/4 miles to stop from an emergency brake application.

    Since there were two drivers in the cab, then even if the one at the controls had made a serious error then the other driver should have stepped in.

    • How come the second driver wasn't arrested?  What was he doing that he never apparently noticed that something was drastically wrong?

      I don't think we'll ever hear the full truth of what went on in that cab in the minutes before the disaster.

      • At this point GD I cannot answer as to why the 2nd driver did not react. I do't know if he survived the crash.

  4. I did state in my earlier posts, as an ex train driver that this was wilfull negligence. The train driver has just been charged with negligent homicide and rightly so.

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