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Train derailment tragedy sees Spanish union leader highlight dangers of using Portuguese drivers

The horrific train derailment that saw four people die last week on the ‘Celta’ Vigo to Porto line has prompted Spanish union boss Sergio Lloves to say it would be better all round if Portuguese drivers stayed on their own turf.

Lloves said the advice cut both ways.

Spanish drivers should also be barred from working in Portugal, he told reporters.

The reason is the differences in the two countries’ security systems.

Lloves’ opinion followed the appalling derailment yards from Porriño station, in Galicia, last Friday morning that killed experienced Portuguese driver José Arnaldo Moreira, two other railway personnel and an American, while over 50 passengers were injured, among them Portuguese.

The ‘Celta’ train was only minutes into its journey from Vigo to Porto, when the accident happened.

Investigations have already highlighted what has been termed as an “IT failing”, while scrutiny of the train’s black box is apparently still underway.

The train appears to have been going at three times the speed for the line it was on.

Media reports have explained that this was due to the switch over from a primary line, to a secondary line, without the railway signals system having alerted the driver.

“The driver would not have known he needed to reduce speed from 90 to 30 km/hour”, wrote Correio da Manhã.

Moreira, who had worked for Portugal’s railway authority CP for 22 years and was described as “very experienced”, was thus “taken by surprise” as the train hurtled towards its dramatic head-on impact with a bridge and electrical post.

Owned by Spain’s RENFE network but rented out to CP, the five-carriage train has been described as in perfect condition and only recently serviced.

President of Porriño council confirmed, however, that while black box investigations are ongoing, “there seem to be no doubts that something caused the excess of speed”.

CP is meantime paying all the costs of repatriating 45-year-old Moreira’s body to his hometown of Ermesinde.

The wrecked train has been moved to the nearby station of Redondela for further scrutiny by experts.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com

Photo: JOSÉ COELHO/LUSA