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Spanish Train Crash

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Spanish Train Crash

Old 24th Jul 2013, 21:37
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Spanish Train Crash

This looks a real bad 'un






Last edited by 22 Degree Halo; 24th Jul 2013 at 21:38.
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Old 24th Jul 2013, 21:50
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Yes, very serious BBC News - Dozens die as Spanish train derails in Galicia
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Old 24th Jul 2013, 23:01
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Something seriously wrong with the way the train reacted to the crash

Thats a high-speed unit, supposedly very strong. Shouldn't have torn apart like that. And worse, the carriage bodies should have stayed coupled together, not separated. Looks to me like its a unit with articulated bogies, and the bogies have torn off from the bodies. Thats not supposed to happen in a crash. Theres going to be a lot of fallout from this as it undermines the design philosophy of a lot of modern european rolling stock

Last edited by Milo Minderbinder; 28th Jul 2013 at 10:12.
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Old 24th Jul 2013, 23:24
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The BBC video posted earlier says witnesses reported an explosion.
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Old 24th Jul 2013, 23:27
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I was intrigued to see that one carriage had finished up on the road on top of the embankment albeit upright. How the hell did it get up there?

And what was burning on the front end of the rear power car? I would assume that the train was electrically powered and therefore no fuel tank?
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Old 24th Jul 2013, 23:31
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"I was intrigued to see that one carriage had finished up on the road on top of the embankment albeit upright. How the hell did it get up there?"

I was thinking exactly the same thing.
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Old 24th Jul 2013, 23:34
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that "burning" looks like a cutting torch - someone trying to get in

looks like that lone carriage broke away from the bogies while cornering and went up the incline rather than round the curve. Its disturbing that the rear power car broke away from it and carried on round the curve.
Not sure if thats a tilting train set, but my suspicion is that it is, and the tilt mechanism catastrophically failed on that coach as it cornered, allowing the coach body to depart. Still doesn't explain why the other coach bodies have separated. As I said before, this looks very wrong.
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Old 24th Jul 2013, 23:40
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Forgive me Milo but I am pretty sure that its not from a cutting torch. Have a look at the pic on the Sky News site which shows a large amount of thick black smoke and no rescue personnel anywhere near the power car.

Train Crash In Spain: 'Up To 45 Killed'
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Old 24th Jul 2013, 23:40
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Any one know at about what speed the train would normally be traveling, at the point it derailed? I'd think it would be pretty damn fast to have enough energy to throw one of the carriages up a 30 to 50 foot high embankment.
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Old 24th Jul 2013, 23:49
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Duckbutt
I see what you mean from the smoke in that photo.

One possibility could be overcooked rheostatic brakes - the resistances on some trains are in the roof for cooling. But it could be something like transformer fluid or air conditioning fluid overheating

Last edited by Milo Minderbinder; 26th Jul 2013 at 06:50.
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Old 25th Jul 2013, 00:02
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Given the foreshortening caused by a long lens its difficult to be sure but it would appear that the first damaged overhead support for the overhead wires is adjacent to the start of the sharp curve in the track so which would seem to indicate that the derailment occured there. The obvious first thoughts must therefore be that either for whatever reason the train was going too fast for the location or alternatively there was a track fault at that point, for example a heat buckle or rail break. Nothing immediately obvious in any photo I've seen though.
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Old 25th Jul 2013, 00:22
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Looks like there are some similarities with the German ICE crash a few years ago.

The power car that is burning must be the rear car, so it looks as if the derailment was to the right cess on the approach to the road over rail bridge.

Some cars have clearly struck the bridge structure and been smashed against the re-inforced concrete deck and abutments, and one car has ridden up the re-inforced abutment of the bridge and come crashing down on the highay.

The physics will take some examining. At Polmont on a 100 mph push pull service tree branches were found in the coupler of the wrecked driving trailer that had been at the front end, indicating that it had stood on end during the indident.

The Pendolino at Grayrigg was an example of pure luck, and crass comment by Branson who referred to the driver as bravely steering the train away from trouble, when the reality was that he came off the track just after, and not just before Docker viaduct.

The only fatality there was one poor lady who had a heart attack - if the Pendolino had dived into clear air off the viaduct, who knows...........
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Old 25th Jul 2013, 00:23
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maybe, but could be a bit more to it
I think the train is one of these RENFE Class 130 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Otherwise known as an "Alvia" unit

They're TALGO trains - variable track gauge. The wheels can move on the axles while the train is in slow transit. So yep they are articulated like I thought, and they tilt - on a pendulum basis. Wiki gives a max speed of 160mph on 14535mm track (standard gauge) or 140mph on the broader Iberian gauge.
Its clear the bodies have departed from the articulated bogies. I'd guess the pendulums proved to be a weak point - the uprights hold the body to the bogie.


edit
just noticed the crashed trainset is a 730 -a modification of a 130, with an auxiliary diesel generator added to provide electricity to the power cars when the train is running "off the juice". Maybe the diesel is the source of the smoke?

Last edited by Milo Minderbinder; 28th Jul 2013 at 10:14. Reason: remove incorrect speculation
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Old 25th Jul 2013, 02:49
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Chapter and Verse from El Pais... translation by Google... Interpretation by me...

Un gran exceso de velocidad al tomar una curva, posible causa del accidente | Política | EL PAÍS

The accident occurred on a very complex tight curve. In the place where the train derailed the speed limit is 80 kms per hour. However, according to investigative sources, it appears that the train speed was traveling at an excessive 180kph . The train, which had previously been traveling at high speed, exceeding 200 kilometers per hour in places, did not slow enough and entered the curve at more than double the speed limit, derailing it and overturning some of its cars and causing dozens of deaths.

Users of this train, which runs between Madrid and Ferrol, know the curve well. On the day of the opening of the route, on December 10, 2011, on reaching the curve, the train lurched , unbalancing some of the passengers. There, that day, there was a lot of comment about the severity of the curve after more than 80 miles almost dead straight line from Ourense on the AVE section of the route.
This is the first corner on the route from from Ourense to Santiago de Compostela (translation is a little weak at this point) It is also where there is no completely independent new path for the AVE train but uses part of the old layout, the way it was built during the Franco between the two cities. Although the new path was wider at the entrance to Santiago that line loses some of the features of high speed. This was done, in part, to prevent expropriation, in an urbanized area, were much higher than they already were.

But alternating sections of track sections of AVE and conventional characteristics are reproduced in other parts of the track. The Alvia which runs between Madrid and Ferrol travels different paths. It is the fastest train circulating in Santiago. Between Madrid and Olmedo (Valladolid) it uses the AVE line. Then, between Olmedo and Ourense it runs on in conventional tracks, waiting while they finish the AVE works already underway. Finally, between Ourense and Santiago joins the AVE, but at the entrance to Santiago it again runs along the old tracks. At that point the train must slow down and, when you reach the sharp bend where the accident occurred, the speed limit is just 80 kms per hour. The decrease in speed at this point is very pronounced going from over 200 kms per hour to 80 in a short span of time.

The line where the accident occurred is not within the ERTMS (European Rail Traffic Management System), a system of rail traffic management that prevents a train exceeding the maximum set speed or stop signs to exceed. In the stretch where the accident took place worked the ASFA (Ad Auto brake and signal) standard, a system that stops the train if the driver agent does not follow directions on signs but only receives information from the road at certain points (beacons), that is, only when passing through these points convoy controls the flow as required.

A further report in El Pais seems to indicate that the driver, who received only minor injuries has admitted that he entered the curve 'strong' Too fast perhaps? It doesn't translate well...

Alvia and AVE train sets form the basis of Spain's highly successful High Speed rail network... on the basis of the drivers alleged statement this would appear to be a case of driver error coupled with a possible over dependence on ERTMS which had it been in place at the scene would have prevented the accident.

Other related links...
?Vi venir un torpedo enorme de polvo y ruido. El tren se venía contra mí? | Política | EL PAÍS
Accidente ferroviario en Santiago de Compostela | Media | EL PAÍS
Tragedia ferroviaria en Santiago | Fotogalería | Actualidad | EL PAÍS

The last link is to a photogallery at the scene... it's very graphic... some of the pictures show the tight radius of the curve; I would also to suggest that the concrete walls of the flyover and its abutments contributed to the severity of the accident just as they did in the German ICE train derailment at Eschede in 1998...

Talgo train sets such as this are designed to be able to negotiate tight curves at a relatively high speed that would not be possible with carriages of conventional conventional length and the wheel arrangement of the articulated coaches is totally different from that of conventional 8 wheeled coaches. The speed limits applied to Talgo routes are designed around the strange wheel arrangement. Entering a curve at twice the speed limit as has been alleged is unfortunately a recipe for just such a disaster as this...

Given the circumstances of excessive speed, a second string signalling system, the variance in AVE and conventional trackwork, the differences between ERTMS and the signalling and train control system in place at this point on the route on this route, that this was an accident waiting to happen. Under Spain's judicial system someone has to be blamed (witness the Spanair Madrid witch-hunt); it will probably be the driver, and he will probably go to jail. This is not my idea of justice, to me it's revenge.
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Old 25th Jul 2013, 02:56
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In the place where the train derailed the speed limit is 80 kms per hour. However, according to investigative sources, it appears that the train speed was traveling at an excessive 180kph
Thank you.

If true, not you but the article, that pretty well is a very telling clue as to what caused the accident.

The old saying of, 'Speed kills', may have proved itself one more time.
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Old 25th Jul 2013, 06:20
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Originally Posted by Duckbutt View Post
I was intrigued to see that one carriage had finished up on the road on top of the embankment albeit upright. How the hell did it get up there?
If you look at some of the photos, there is a ramp leading up to where the carriage came to rest. It looks like the carriage became detached and its energy propelled it up the slope.
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Old 25th Jul 2013, 06:54
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Instead of English, why not read about the accident in Castillano?
This morning's El Pais reports 77 dead and 140 wounded of whom some 20 are very seriously so. A wagon to wagon search is still going on.

EL PAÍS Edición América: el periódico global en español


It's a tragedy with horrific consequences for some families but as for humour and the British taste for the niceties of tragedy, Spanish black humour, especially with regard to human physical suffering, is both vibrant and dark, and sometimes even remarkably vomitous.
During the Thirty Years War, 1618-1648, the Spanish troops or levies were feared among all others for cruelty and the refinement of their methods of torture used to extract information as to the whereabouts of a family's savings upon the occupation of a fallen town or city. The language and humour today well reflects the ease and variations with which they used the gallows then.
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Old 25th Jul 2013, 07:36
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Looking on google Earth the curves approaching the station are clear enough and the last one before the station looks as though it might be even slower than the 80 KPH. I can't recognise the exact curve where the accident happened so it might be one of the others.

When I saw the pictures my first reaction was that there had to be far too much energy in the train for it to be on that curve safely. Modern train sets should easily survive a derailment at forty to fifty miles an hour except for hitting a granite wall.

When accidents occur you can never tell what might happen, however the behaviour of the coach set does seem peculiar in this case. Both the end units seem to have stayed on the ground but a coach from the middle has detached and mounted the embankment all by itself and remained upright. Almost surreal. One would expect that once once coach had departed the coaches behind would have gone along with it.

One of the key safety features of modern trains is the couplings which are supposed to hold the coaches together, each stabilised by the adjacent ones. This was the principle when the buckeye coupling was introduced and has been part of train safety ever since, including the shared bogey type.

As I understand it from what I read years ago Pendolino type trains don't derive safety from their 'leaning' but the tilt is designed to enhance comfort for the passengers. So much of the weight in a coach is low down that there isn't a huge transfer of the CG when it tilts. On the other hand I'd never heard of "Dual Guage' train sets in Spain so I might just be ignorant.
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Old 25th Jul 2013, 08:44
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Grim news. Eldest daughter and her mates are all currently trying to get hold of their Spanish exchanges from Santiago to check they and their families are okay.

AA - have to say old chap that your attempt at levity was pretty ill-judged in this instance. If you did that over on R&N after an a/c accident you'd have been roundly condemned, and rightly so IMO.
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Old 25th Jul 2013, 09:10
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Originally Posted by Milo Minderbinder View Post
Something seriously wrong with the way the train reacted to the crash

Thats a high-speed TGV-type unit, supposedly very strong. Shouldn't have torn apart like that. And worse, the carriage bodies should have stayed coupled together, not separated. Looks to me like its a unit with articulated bogies, and the bogies have torn off from the bodies. Thats not supposed to happen in a crash. Theres going to be a lot of fallout from this as it undermines the design philosophy of a lot of modern european rolling stock - including the Eurotunnel carriages
Yes it's an AVE (high speed train). The coaches do sit on articulated bogies and, as you correctly point out, due to their modern design will normally sit upright and in one piece like the Eurostar train (same basic design) did when it derailed at 300 kph near Picardy a few years ago after the track subsided into some unknown tunnel workings. The photograph does show that the train was negotiating a curve and the lateral forces at high speeds will make every effort to telescope the train. I heard on the news this morning that eye witnesses were saying that the train was travelling way faster than they normally do there. I believe - I'm not certain - that the train is not actually on the high-speed network at Santiago but like the French TGVs that go to Strasburg was negotiating a "normal" bit of line. This may explain why the train was able - if it was - to travel at a higher than permitted speed as it would have been under the manual control of the driver with him relyng on his sighted judgement rather than the TVM430 system that gives the driver speed instructions on the high speed line with the automatic brake intervention if he overspeeds or underbrakes.

Just a few thoughts from an old retired Eurostar train operations controller.
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