Buenos Aires, Feb 27 (IANS/EFE) The audiotape of the communications between the commuter train that crashed last week in Argentina, killing 51 and injuring 703, and the control center does not reveal that the train driver gave any warning about a brake failure.
The contents of the recording were released Sunday by the press and reveal that the motorman only communicated with the control center when he boarded the train and began his work shift.
The communications only resume after the train crashed into the shock-absorbing buffers at the Once station, one of the main stations in Buenos Aires, but it is the voice of the train’s security guard that can be heard and he is asking the control center to send ambulances, firefighters and police.
The train’s motorman – who was injured in the crash – stated last Friday before the judge investigating the incident that he hit the brakes twice and then used the emergency brake in an effort to stop the train, but they did not work.
Motorman Marcos Antonio Cordoba, 28, is facing criminal charges that could result in between six months and three years in prison but after giving testimony in court he remained at liberty by order of the judge.
“At no time in the recording of the communications between the motorman and the controller was there anything problematic … and the driver never warned that the train had brake failure,” said sources at the TBA company, which manages the railway service, in statements to the daily La Nacion.
Union leaders for the railway quoted by the paper said that the workers who refused to operate trains in bad condition were sanctioned by the firm.
The complaints about the poor functioning of the trains are getting more severe among commuters, whose statements are being reported more and more in the local press, where they said that it is a regular occurrence for the trains’ automatic doors to be open during runs, for there to be broken windows in the cars and repeated delays due to assorted problems.
The government has decided to be one of the plaintiffs in the court proceedings opened into the incident as rumours grow about a possible state takeover of TBA, which receives millions of dollars in subsidies from the government.