Tue, 04 Jul 2006

Metro crash in València

As most of you know already, there was a horrible accident in the Línia 1 of the Metrovalencia underway system of València, where I live. The death toll is, as of this writing, 41, and several more people are in critical condition in the hospitals.

Thanks to the many people who mailed, texted and msgd me on IRC to find out about my status. I am ok, as are my closest relatives and friends.

The causes for the accident are not clear yet, but officials say the southbound train, one of the oldest in the system and in service for 20 years, derailed due to an excess of speed in one of the bends of the tunnel, next to the Jesús station, after one of the iron wheels broke. The crash must have been very violent, as the number of dead has always been quite higher than the injured.

With these numbers, in a not so big city as València, you're sure to learn about the luck of people you know. In my case, one of my best friends Sabrina escaped the accident thanks to her stubborness. She had to go to the Hospital Peset a few minutes before the time of the crash, and although her two workmates were taking the Metro, she decided to cycle alone, avoiding taking the deadly train. Her two workmates are, luckily, only injured; one of them was being shown on the very early TV foootage, as she was carried on a stretcher to an ambulance. The only information I have is that one arrived in the hospital unconscious, the other needed leg surgery due to the wounds. I think they weren't among the very grave.

TV stations have been missinforming about the status of the Metro system in València. The reality is that the Line 1 has been in service for 20 years, and I've been a user for at least 17, as it's the only one which connects Godella, where my father lives, and València. I've seen the infrastructure go from brand new to it's current despicable state. There are trains which are as old as the line itself, and others which are even older, as they were in use in an older, now taken over by Metrovalencia, train service which connected several towns with the North and South of the city. For more than a decade, the effort to modernise Line 1 have been inexistant, other than prettifying the old trains to make them look more like the new models in lines 3 and 5.

The railroad Unions of Metrovalencia have been denouncing the state of the infrastructure for several years, and the local government had finally announced a massive replacement of trains for later this year. Just a bit too late. I'm getting ready for the official reports making the train driver the only responsible, though. Valencians are getting used to this kind of deluding.

The needed investments for other “equally important” matters in this city, like the America's Cup or the imminent visit of Pope Ratzinger next weekend have not been delayed for years, though.