THE DRIVER OF a train that derailed in Spain killing 79 people was speaking on his work phone at the time of the accident and appeared to consult a map, a court said today after analysing the train’s data recorders.
Francisco Jose Garzon Amo, 52, has been charged with 79 counts of reckless homocide following the derailment of the train near the pilgrimage city of Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain.
“Minutes before the train came off the tracks he received a call on his work phone to get indications on the route he had to take to get to Ferrol.
“From the content of the conversation and background noise it seems that the driver consulted a map or paper document,” a court statement said.
Police detained Garzon Amo last Thursday, a day after what is Spain’s deadliest rail disaster in decades while he was still in hospital recovering from a light head injury he suffered in the crash.
On Sunday, a police car delivered him in handcuffs to the courthouse for the closed hearing where he was granted bail.
The court documents also say that the train was travelling at 153 kilometres or 95 miles per hour at the time of the accident. Moments before the accident the train was traveling at a speed of 192 kilometres an hour.
The speed limit at the spot where the train derailed was set at 80 kilometres an hour, the court documents said.
The train had two data recording “block boxes” which were analysed for the first time by police today in the presence of the examining judge.
State railway company Renfe has said Garzon had been with the firm for 30 years, including 13 years as a driver, and had driven trains past the spot of the accident 60 times.
The train had no technical problems and had just passed an inspection on the morning of the accident, Renfe said.