Train crash driver boasted of speeding on Facebook

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With eighty confirmed dead in the train crash in Santiago De Compostela, Spanish investigators are looking at the Facebook page of one of the drivers involved. Francisco Jose Garzon Amo had previously boasted on the social media site about driving at high speeds and joked about the prospect of the Guardia Civil attempting to fine the train company RENFE for speeding.

Speed is the most obvious cause of the crash which occurred when a high speed Alvia train took a curve at 180 kph when the maximum speed for that stretch of the line was 80 kph. The investigating judge will interview the driver, who is presently being kept under police guard in hospital.

The Facebook jokes make grim reading. "What a blast it would be to go parallel with the Guardia Civil and go past them triggering the radar," the driver is alleged to have written last year, posting a picture of the speedometer of a train at 200 kph. "Haha what a fine for Renfe." The Facebook page has since been blocked by investigators.

The 52 year-old Garzon Amo had worked for Renfe for 30 years and had been a fully qualified driver for the last ten. It is highly unlikely that any driver familiar with the route would have attempted to speed over the dangerous curve where the high-speed line joins the older, conventional track just outside the city of Santiago. Newspaper reports suggest that automatic braking systems might have failed. One of the drivers made a call to Renfe ahead of the bend saying: "I'm going at 190kmh, I'm going to derail."

The crash is most serious rail accident in Spain since a disaster in the Bierzo region in 1944, also on a Madrid to Galicia route. There were believed to be up to 500 fatalities in that incident, although the full scale of the tragedy was concealed by the Franco regime, with an official death toll of 78.

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