December 11, 2013
Castelar train-wreck footage revealed
Controversy over whether Automatic Sytem Brakes functioned after images disseminated
Morón Federal Judge Jorge Rodríguez already began to analyze images from footage taken moments before a deadly railway accident in Castelar last month. It was determined that the train-driver had ignored four stop-lights before the impact with the other Chapa 19 train. Seconds before the crash, the driver had left his cabin. The accident which happened last June 13 led to three deaths and 315 injuries.
Court sources confirmed that the footage captured by the Train Chapa 1’s camera minutes before a collision with another train only metres away from the station was in the judge’s possession.
The video was publicized yesterday by various media and had been edited to explain how the train-driver who is charged with negligence in the tragedy and appeared to have ignored alert signs before the impact with the other train. The images display the trajectory of Chapa 1, between Morón station and the point of collision with Chapa 19, only 800 metres before Castelar railway station.
This footage could prove that the engine-driver ignored at least “four stop lights” before the crash and confirmed the brake alarm sounds which should verify whether the driver had disactivated an emergency brake called a “live man” which should have stopped the movement of the train.
The velocity of the train right before the crash and at the moment of impact is displayed in the video. According to a report provided by the investigation, the images demonstrated a series of errors committed by Daniel López.
However, Chapa 1 train-driver López declared that the brakes “did not work at the last moment.” Investigators are analyzing all the evidence to determine what actually happened.
López is currently charged with the crime, though he has not been detained for now. Judicial authorities will define the following steps they will take in the next few days.
The company which had supplied the brakes to the train, Germany’s Knorr-Bremsen, rejected claims that the brakes had not been functioning in a press release sent to the Mitre Sarmiento (UGOMS) Operations Unit (UGOMS) responsible for the service.
Judge Rodríguez is analyzing the video in order to determine the causes for the tragedy, an accident which occurred 16 months after another railway accident at Once station, where 51 people died.
Sarmiento accident details
The railway’s route was filmed for 1,200 metres, where the train reached a maximum speed between 61 and 64 kilometres per hour at the moment of the collision. The speedometer displayed in the video is a digital animation based on the information provided from the train’s GPS system.
According to the report, the video demonstrates that the train crossed a yellow stop light, two red lights and one turned off. Internal technical regulations established that drivers are obliged to lower their speed before a yellow-stop light and completely stop when witnessing a turned-off or red light.
It was also reported that eight corresponding whistles in the “Live man” security system were blown. This mechanism requires an immediate response from the train-driver stepping on a pedal, something not necessary with automatic brakes.
The “live man” alarm had been automatically activated every six seconds and the driver had always responded. This test throws out the hypothesis that the driver had fallen asleep or some other physical inconvenience which would have prevented him from stopping the train.
Herald with DyN, Télam