Julian Bray writes: Was the High Speed Spanish train (a version different from Spains Very High Speed Train) which has derailed and killed 78, 200 hurt, reportedly travelling at more than 200 klms? A trackside security camera, recorded the very moment the train left the track, and video footage now seen, seems to strongly suggest the train was indeed travelling too fast.
The locomotive or powerhead, left the rails, corkscrews and plunges straight into a series of trackside and overhead metal lattice gantries, shearing off whole sidewall sections, of some of the rolling stock.
The remainder of the train, still attached, appears on the video to slew and then whiplash across two of the three tracks at high speed confirming earlier reports of excessive speed. The driver who survived the carnage, has now been detained and is being interviewed by police
There were 247 passengers on board, many of them pilgrims making their way to Santiago de Compostela in the Galicia northern region of Spain.
The speed of 200k is three times the authorised speed limit of 80k for this tunnel and bend section. The train would have just exited a tunnel and should have slowed right down to negotiate the bend in the track (hence the speed restriction) when the derailment happened sending whole carriages 'flying'.
The train was travelling from Madrid to Ferrol on the Galician coast when it derailed.
Officials in Santiago de Compostela cancelled services and celebrations planned for this Thursday, a feast day, when Catholic pilgrims converge on the city to celebrate a festival venerating St. James, the disciple of Jesus, whose remains are said to rest in a shrine.
The city is the main gathering point for the faithful who make it to the end of the El Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route that has drawn Christians since the Middle Ages. The last part of the pilgrimage has to be completed on foot.
Renfe Larga Distancia ordered 90 powerheads from the consortium Talgo-Bombardier Transportation in April 2004 and September 2005. The Renfe S-130 electric powerheads with speeds of up to 250 km/h are fast but not Very High Speed, the ideal complement to the existing fleet of very high speed passenger trains in Spain. The electric powerhead can operate under two voltages and on two track gauges. With these powerheads, neither locomotives nor bogies need to be changed at the borders of 3 kV DC and 25 kV AC networks or when Iberian (1,668 mm) and standard gauge (1,435 mm) tracks meet.
The powerheads are fitted both with wheel disk brakes and with regenerative and rheostatic brakes. Traction motors and gearboxes are fully suspended in the variable gauge bogies. The new powerheads comply with all standards, such as TSI and TCN, and are fitted with conventional and ETCS train protection systems. To ensure effective servicing and maintenance, the powerheads have remote wire-less diagnostics systems.
JULIAN BRAY, Media, Aviation, & Travel Expert. Broadcaster & Journalist NUJ EQUITY UK Tel: 01733 345581 (isdn UK 01733 555319)