Spain spends big to keep eye on train drivers

Steve Tallantyre
Steve Tallantyre - [email protected]
Spain spends big to keep eye on train drivers
The technology will be fitted to long-distance trains capable of exceeding 160kph. Photo: Evan Blaser/Flickr

Spain's national rail operator Renfe has announced that it will spend €3.8m ($5.24m) on surveillance technology for the cabins of 240 trains to monitor drivers in the wake of last year's accident in Santiago in which 79 people died.


Two systems of cameras and microphones will record events in the driver's cabin on long-distance trains capable of exceeding 160kph, including AVE, Avant and Alvia services.

The recordings will be protected in a crash-proof black box, similar to those used in aircraft, but would only be viewed in the event of an accident.

Spanish daily El Mundo reported that plans to extend the system to include the 5,000 trains of the Cercanias commuter, regional and medium-distance services would require a further investment of €80 million.

The black boxes are part of a package of measures being introduced as a result of an accident in July 2013 when an Alvia train crashed near the northern Spanish city of Santiago.

It was speeding around a curve on the express route between Madrid and the port city of Ferrol on the Galician coast when all eight of its carriages derailed, leaving 79 passengers dead and 170 wounded.

The driver of the train admitted to going too fast and being on his mobile phone at the time of the accident.

Mobile phone use by train drivers has since been limited to emergencies but they are reportedly unhappy with the new plans to fit security cameras.

They say that they are being singled out for blame and claim that the state of the track and signalling systems were also factors in the accident.

The judge investigating the accident has asked for further information on train and track safety.    

Spain's Ministry of Works announced in January that it was introducing new qualification requirements and compulsory psychological testing for the profession.

Don't miss stories about Spain, join us on Facebook and Twitter.   


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also