Today the train driver of Spain’s worst rail disaster in more than 70 years will be brought before a judge. The driver, Francisco Garzón, has spent the night in a cell of the Santiago de Compostela’s central police station. Grazón has been formally accused of manslaughter, which was caused by recklessness. He might face a 12 year jail sentence. However, there might be more to the story because Spain, and it’s railway company, EUR, has 13 billion reasons to blame the train driver.
Apart from blaming the train driver, other claims have been made towards the rescue operation as a whole. According to El País it took two hours to declare the state of alert, which would mobilize other provinces to send help. The citizens of the neighborhood Angrois, didn’t sit back and wait for the official signs in order to come into action. They stormed ahead and tried to help the victims as best as they could without a second thought about their own safety. They smashed in the windows of the carriages with rocks in order to gain access to pull out the injured, dead and dying. On Saturday, the police announced that they had been able to identify the last victims and were able to inform a shocked public, that the final death toll stood at 78.
When 52-year-old train driver Garzón left the hospital on Saturday, he gave no reaction when a relative of a victim of the accident hurled abuse at him. Of course he was handcuffed and tried to hide his identity with dark sunglasses. However, the relative of the victim had no problem identifying him, screaming: “I hope you rot in hell, you filthy bastard.” The woman will perhaps include Spain and it’s railway company in her accusations as well, especially since they have EUR 13 billion reasons to blame the train driver.
The union, which represents Garzón, tried to control the situation and expressed concern that the driver had already been accused of actions that have yet to be confirmed by the train’s black boxes. The union is shocked that a driver would have changed the velocity too high when passing through a curve. The union is convinced that the train was faulty. They believe there was something technically wrong. They do not believe that the driver was going to fast. Eladio Rodríguez, regional head of the transport sector of the socialist General Workers’ Union (UGT) said: “There have to be causes other than the alleged human error.” In addition Juan Jesús García Fraile of the railway workers’ union said that without the data from the black boxes, “we do not know what happened”.
However, Garzón has a reputation for showing off. So far there have been claims of him bragging about the speed he was capable of going with the high-speed train, but this has not been proven.
Since day one, the Spanish railway company, Renfe, has blamed the train driver. This is in their own best interest because if the driver isn’t found guilty than it must have been a problem with their train. If the train is to blame, Renfe can forget about the EUR’s 13 Billion dollar contract to build a high-speed rail link in Brazil; therefore, giving Spain and it’s railway company EUR 13 billion reasons to blame the train driver.
By Georgina Pijttersen