• France's news in English

French rail network given all-clear as probe opens

AFP/The Local · 24 Jul 2013, 15:59

Published: 24 Jul 2013 15:59 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The opening of criminal investigation into involuntary homicide and injury was announced on Wednesday by the prosecutor of Evry, Eric Lallement. 

The crash on July 12th at the Bretigny-sur-Orge station, about 25 kilometres (15 miles) south of Paris left six people dead, two passengers and four people who were standing on the platform.

French rail operator SNCF blamed the accident - which saw the intercity train derail as it sped through the station - on a connecting bar that had come loose at a rail switchpoint.

Prosecutor Lallement said the idea someone had purposefully loosened the connecting bar is not one authorities are giving much weight to. The prosecutor said they working on the theory of "material failure" and will aim to get to the bottom of how the connecting bar came loose. Three judges will now be appointed to lead the investigation.

He also confirmed reports that thieves had stolen from two passengers involved in the crash. 

Objects belonging to the passengers were found in Chatelet, central Paris, and CCTV images showed people leaving the station with suitcases they did not have when they arrived, the magistrate said.

The prosecutor also confirmed that rocks were thrown at five firefighters who had responded to the emergency and one emergency aid worker reported having his phone stolen.

In the days after the disaster SNCF carried out extensive checks of around 5,000 other rail switchpoints. The results of the checks were announced on Wednesday.

"The checks have not detected any situations that would threaten safety," Pierre Izard, the SNCF's general manager for infrastructure, told a press conference.

Izard said nearly 5,000 switchpoints had been checked since the accident.

The SNCF said its findings had been handed over to judicial and transport safety authorities, who are carrying out their own investigations into the accident.

SNCF chief Guillaume Pepy said it remained unclear how the connecting bar had come loose at the station.

"Every possibility is being considered," he said.

The accident, which also left dozens injured, raised concerns about the state of France's rail network, with some officials complaining that regional lines had suffered as funding focused on high-speed TGV lines.

Story continues below…

President Francois Hollande said after the accident that France must do "much more" to maintain regional lines, vowing to make them a priority for investment.

Last week an explosive police document was published alleging that opportunistic thieves threw stones at police and rescue workers and stole possessions from accident victims in the aftermath of the derailment.

The contents of the document, which was revealed by Le Point magazine, said that individuals from the suburb "hampered the progress of rescue vehicles by throwing projectiles at them".

"Certain trouble-makers had succeeded in seizing personal possessions scattered on the ground or on the victims themselves," the document from the CRS (Compagnies Républicaines de Sécurité), a unit of the French National Police said.

Last week, however, authorities officially denied there were any thefts from passengers while police have stated publicly that no passengers have reported any crime.

AFP/The Local (sophie.inge@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
How speaking French can really mess up your English
Photo: CollegeDegree360/Flickr

So you've mastered French, but now it's time to learn English all over again.

French claims that Jungle camp is empty are rubbished
Photo: AFP

Reports from the scene say scores of migrants are still in the area of the Jungle despite French authorities claiming "mission fulfilled."

Kidnapped Riviera millionaire left tied up in car boot in Nice
Photo: AFP

Head of luxury Cannes hotel has been found alive after being kidnapped in Nice on Monday.

Paris landlords still charging illegally high rents
Photo: Panoramas/Flickr

... and it's tenants in the smaller apartments that get hit the hardest. Could you be paying too much?

France takes baby steps to make life simpler
Photo: AFP

... including extending the ridiculously short time limit for registering a new baby.

IN PICTURES: Calais Jungle camp goes up in flames
All Photos: AFP

Migrants leave behind a scorched camp as they are moved to locations across France.

French expats in UK suffer Brexit abuse
French ambassador to the UK Sylvie Bermann with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. Photo: AFP

French nationals no longer feel at home in the UK, ambassador says. But Brits in France have been greeted with sympathy since the referendum.

Six to go on trial in France over topless Kate photos
Photo: AFP

The topless pics sparked fury among the royals.

France sees biggest drop in jobless rate for 20 years
Photo: AFP

Good news at last. But it's unlikely to keep President Fran├žois Hollande in his job.

Calais migrants given mixed reception in French towns
Photo: AFP

Some in France have shown solidarity with their new guests, while others have made it clear they are not welcome.

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available