Monday 5 December 2016

Italian station master 'admits letting train go before crash'

Published 14/07/2016 | 13:41

At least 23 people died in the head-on collision between two trains (AP)
At least 23 people died in the head-on collision between two trains (AP)

A station master has reportedly admitted giving the green light to one of the commuter trains that collided head-on in southern Italy.

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But Vito Piccarreta said that he did not bear sole responsibility for the crash that killed at least 23 people, according to Turin newspaper La Stampa.

Mr Piccarreta said: "I let the train depart, I was the one who raised the signal."

But he said there was confusion along the single-track line due to delays and that Tuesday's disaster "wasn't only my fault".

It has been reported that two station masters are among those under investigation. Prosecutors are also looking at the reasons for delays in adding a second track despite EU and national funding.

AP

The trains, operated by the regional rail company Ferrotramviaria, collided on the single-track line where the right of way is controlled by phone contact, not by automated systems. More than 50 people were injured, with 21 still in hospital.

Questions about the crash include why the method of control had not been upgraded to newer technology, and why the station masters in Andria and Corato were not aware that each had set a train on a collision course.

Prosecutor Francesco Giannella declined to confirm reports that the station masters had been formally placed under investigation, and indicated that the probe would not focus solely on human error.

"To speak of human error is correct, but it is too much of an oversimplification," he told reporters.

He confirmed that magistrates were working alongside the financial police on a second line of investigation to determine why a second track had not been constructed despite EU and national funding.

The head of Italy's anti-corruption agency told the Senate that deep-rooted corruption in the nation's infrastructure projects probably played a role in the crash.

"It is probably the result of human error, but also probably the ugly consequence of an endemic problem in our country, the difficulty of creating adequate infrastructure, and one of the objective and certain reasons is included in the arguments we are making here today," Raffaele Cantone said in his annual address on corruption in Italy.

Asked to respond, Mr Giannella said it was not yet clear what role corruption may have played in the collision, but he said in general terms that "it is clear that an excess of bureaucracy ... is a source of inefficiency, and corruption lurks in inefficiency, as everyone knows".

AP

Press Association

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