Llodio (Álava) (EFE)
Gonzalo Faustmann’s daughter died in 2016 when she was hit by a train when she was crossing between the platforms of the Llodio station (Álava).
Six years later, the mother of Raúl Fuentes died in the same way 4 kilometers away, at another stop in Llodio.
Few things have changed: both have added to the loss of a loved one the “pain” for the “silence” of Renfe and Adif. “What less than to offer condolences,” laments Faustmann, who created the Association of Victims of Railway Overruns (AVAF) after the death of his daughter Irune.
It arose “because of the lack of support to help the families of victims” and to improve security measures and prevent further abuses.
They ask for the burying of the nearly 400 steps between platforms that exist in Spain and, meanwhile, traffic lights, barriers or the figure of the station manager be recovered.
“Currently there are a lot of steps between platforms and all the security they have is a sign that says ‘danger’. It seems completely insufficient to us, ”Faustmann explains to EFE. He also warns of the presence in “many” places of the so-called “vicious steps”, that is, dirt roads that end on the road.
«They are used very commonly because in many places to go from one point to another you would have to go around 200 meters, for example. It’s wrong but people use the flawed path”, so you have to “put some measure” like walls.
Gonzalo Faustmann and Raúl Fuentes explain the cases of the victims of train collisions. EFE/L. Rich
11 hit-and-run deaths in 2021
In 2021, 15 people died in Spain in rail accidents. Of these, 11 were run over by trains. There were also 19 seriously injured, of which 14 were in collisions.
Despite these figures, the Ministry does not classify the collisions as “serious accidents”, but as “dry” accidents. For this reason, their victims have no “right to any assistance and the Railway Accident Investigation Commission (CIAF) has no obligation to investigate either.”
The president of this association of victims of train collisions does not understand that an accident that in the last ten years has left 146 dead in Spain is not classified as a serious accident. AVAF also works to support these victims, since there is currently no protocol to assist them.
There is a 2014 decree that regulates “assistance to victims of railway accidents and their families”. The bad thing is that it is but it focuses on the accidents in which the victims traveled by train. This is the case of the Alvia derailment in Santiago de Compostela in 2013, which left 79 dead.
If the consideration of the collisions were raised to the category of “serious accident” the victims could then receive more complete assistance.
“The victim of the run-over is held responsible”
Faustmann also criticizes that Adif and Renfe “always hold the victim responsible” for the run-over. This is what happened in the case of his daughter. In the documentation that Adif sent to the Senate in 2017, the conclusion of the accident states: “he crosses a passage between platforms without noticing the train.”
What happened was more complex, explains his father. Areta station has a “double curve”. Irune, 19, got off a Cercanías train, which as it moved away “impeded the visibility of the freight train that was approaching and according to all the witnesses, no one heard through the public address system that a train was going to pass without stopping.”
The young woman, whose family collected close to 300,000 signatures to ask for more security, was run over and died when she was crossing the passage between platforms, the only one that exists. Since April 2019, this station has an underground passage to go from one platform to another.
Less than 4 kilometers from where Irune died, Rosa, the mother of Raúl Fuentes, died on December 13, also hit by a train, in this case a Cercanías train.
The 80-year-old woman, when she was about to catch the train, was run over at the Santacruz de Gardea halt in the passage between platforms, which is the only pedestrian crossing that exists in this station.
Renfe: The security systems worked
“The facts are currently under investigation and there are many details that we do not know, but people told us that it was a test train that was going at a speed of 100 kilometers per hour,” says Fuentes, who intends to take the case of the courts.
Renfe, for its part, has “ratified” that the public address and security information systems functioned normally. From Adif it is pointed out that the investigation will determine the circumstances of the fatal accident.
The final decision will correspond in any case to the courts since Rosa’s family intends to resort to Justice.
«The response from Adif and Renfe has been null. There has not been any kind of communication” with the family, laments Fuentes. He recalls that on the day of the accident “the only type of communication was a tweet that said ‘accident with a person on the track’ and another three hours later: ‘rail traffic is restored.”
“Their only concern has been to restore rail traffic. I don’t understand, a person has died. And in this case it is even worse because we are a family of railway workers: my grandfather worked for 30 years at Renfe and my daughter 44. No one has addressed him and his life is destroyed », he recounts.
“This is going to happen again”
It is an “inhuman situation” because it seems that “nothing has happened” but “that step is still there and another person will die tomorrow.” “This is going to happen again and we cannot stay still,” warns Fuentes.
Between the death of Irune and Rosa, six years have passed. In this time “something has changed” such as now the victims of train collisions are included in the Compulsory Insurance and larger warning signs are being placed in the stations.
“That’s all. They think that by increasing the size of the cartel the risk decreases,” lamented Faustmann and Fuentes, who are confident that their fight will bear fruit and that there will be no more victims. EFE