The driver of the Santiago train that crashed on Wednesday night outside the north-western Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela—Francisco José Garzón Amo—was talking on the phone to the train’s own inspector prior to and upon impact.
The Galician High Court confirmed the new information to Cadena Ser earlier this evening.
El Mundo reports the final phrases spoken in the conversation between the two were related to their imminent arrival at Santiago de Compostela station:
Inspector: How are you (all) doing?
Driver: Ok, nearly there.
Inspector: When you get there, go in on track two.
Driver: Can’t hear you.
Communication is lost…
The train driver—Mr. Francisco Jose Garzón Amo—returned to court voluntarily to provide the investigating judge with the new information that he had received a phone call from the train’s inspector, Mr. Antonio Martin Marugán.
Mr. Garzón Amo had not reported the existence of this conversation to the judge and neither had press reports of Mr. Martin’s actions during the crash included any mention of a conversation between the two in the minutes leading up to the crash.
Yesterday it was reported that someone from Spanish rail operator RENFE at the time of the crash had phoned the train driver in the minutes before the crash, according to data downloaded from the train’s black boxes and reported in Spanish media, and that this someone was thought to have been a RENFE controller.
According to the statement released yesterday by the Galician High Court:
From the audio stored on the black boxes it has also been possible de discern that the driver was speaking on the telephone with personnel from RENFE, seemingly with a controller, at the moment of the accident. Minutes before coming off the track, he received a call on his professional telephone to give him directions to follow upon arriving in Ferrol. From the content of the conversation and the background noise, it seems the driver is looking at a map or some other similar paper document.
Information from the black boxes—released by the Galician Regional High Court this evening—shows that the Avlia 151 from Madrid to Ferrol was travelling at 192 km/h as it approached the curve at 8:41 p.m. on Wednesday evening.
Mr Garzón Amo, however, did manage to apply the train’s brakes, and reduce the speed of the train from 192 km/h down to 153 km/h at the moment of derailment and impact on the curve.
The two black boxes on the Santiago train also recorded what are believed to be rustling sounds as the train driver consulted a map or some type of document in the seconds leading up to the crash.
In its statement, the Galician High Court also says the investigating judge has today authorised investigators and the judicial police to carry out measurements on the carriage wheels, and that the carriages will not be moved until the inspection process has been completed.
79 people were killed in the train crash on Wednesday evening, which happened suddenly as the Alvia 151 from Madrid to Ferrol approached the city of Santiago de Compostela the day before the annual St James’s festivities were due to begin.
22 casualties from the crash remain in hospital in a critical condition at this time.