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.

20 year old subways is at or under par for the world - far from "decrepit" unless they're not maintained at all.
Hell, the quite badly maintained Norwegian subway lines are only now starting to have troubles (with the electrical system), and our cars are over 40 years old! And over 100 year old trains still run regular schedules all over the world.
The importance of the trains is not the age, but how well maintained they are.
Some of the German lines must be over 30 years old, and they're beautiful and run like clockwork.

Posted by Tore Sinding Bekkedal at Tue Jul 4 11:43:29 2006

Glad to know that you and your closest relatives and friends are ok.

Posted by Jesús Corrius at Tue Jul 4 12:22:24 2006

Tore, absolutely. I don't know if I didn't make it clear enough: the lack of investment on maintenance has been a constant.

Posted by Jordi at Tue Jul 4 12:46:36 2006

You know, it's the rower's fault.

Posted by Jacobo at Tue Jul 4 12:54:15 2006

The trains in Montreal are well older than this, with few problems at all.

Although I'm surprised - your trains still have human drivers?  That always scares me.  Almost all the subway systems in Canada are now fully automated.  Perhaps I've seen too many movies where the subway driver has a heart attack and dies, sending everyone at 150 MPH through the subway system.

I'm glad you're okay!

Posted by Jeff Bailey at Tue Jul 4 14:22:40 2006

It's funny to see how extreme leftist people take advantage of anything, even death people and broken families to attack what they consider the enemy: the church and a non-left government.
The socialist national government delegate yesterday said that the reason of the accident was a broken wheel ¡10 minutes after the accident! because in Valencia you have a conservative party in the government.
And now you "overinform" about some unknown maintenance problems, that a union has reported today (maybe we all were hoping that the railroad Union would accuse one of them of the error, but "surprising" they accuse the administration). When the real investigators have gone to the train and see the "black-box", now we are knowing that the train was far away from the allowed speed in that part of the railway, and that very probably the driver was running too much.
But, don't worry, if you are lucky, the driver was  a catholic believer and you still will have reasons to attack him, his family, the conservative party and, of course, the Pope.

BTW, even if you don't trust me, I'm really happy to know that you and your friends are ok.

Posted by fedaupwith progres at Tue Jul 4 16:46:21 2006

fedaup: have the PP and El Mundo admitted that the 11-M was not caused by ETA yet?

Posted by Jacobo at Tue Jul 4 17:21:12 2006

I don't know. I don't work in El Mundo and don't have any friends in the PP. And I don't know what in the hell Valencia accident has to be with that. (By the way, the railroad Union has just admitted that  there were not any broken wheel and that the driver was driving 80 kms/h when the legal limit was 40 kms/h in that place).

Anyway, I am not able to believe the "Prisa" legend of 11 poor man who created bombs that didn't know how to do, and were the first time in history that muslims suicide without trying to kill anybody...
At least you didn't tell me that I was a fascist and a Franco hooligan, what is the usual answer from the socialist people when you say you don't think like them.

Posted by fedaupwith progres at Tue Jul 4 17:57:39 2006

It's not me who say the line is in bad condition, it's the actual people working on the company. And they didn't start talking a few hours ago, but the strikes were ongoing on January 2004.

Posted by jordi at Tue Jul 4 20:19:54 2006

fedaup: I said that because it's the same but at the inverse. That's to say: the right wing taking advantage of anything, even death people and broken families to attack what they consider the enemy: the left wing.

And I feel it despicable when (as an example of what I have just said) the PP or El Mundo insist that the 11M was done by ETA for the PSOE to rise to power. I have no words to express how repugnant it is to me.

Posted by Jacobo at Tue Jul 4 20:27:24 2006