11 People Dead in TGV Trial-Run Tragedy


A rare accident occurred on Saturday with new TGV-Est project. The presence of children amongst the 49 on board has caused some concern and embarrassment for the SNCF

A shock derailment during the trial run of a TGV line near Strasbourg left 11 people dead but the presence of children on board has raised some concerns about a project whose virtually unblemished safety record has perhaps promoted a certain amount of laxness.

The President of French state rail company SNCF Guillaume Pepy has promised “absolute transparency” in the enquiry to ascertain what went wrong on Saturday when the test train derailed, leaving 11 people dead and 37 injured, including 12 still in a critical condition.

Having expressed his “profound sadness” on behalf of the “SNCF family”, the director added that “we absolutely must know what occurred” on the section of line at Eckwersheim near Strasbourg in the Bas-Rhin department.

In principal, according to Pepy, only authorized personnel are allowed to travel on test-trains. They would included drivers, experts, engineers, component suppliers… All of these are put on an official list which is today in the hands of the law as the enquiry begins. In all, there were 49 people on the train.

“It will be up to the judicial investigators to establish how that list tallies with the people who were on board at the time,” said the SNCF boss, “because it is possible that some of the authorized personnel on board last Saturday brought along their children.”

How many children were on board is still a mystery but what is known is that some of the injured include adolescents. Their presence is “not normal”, according to Pepy. It seems, however, that on this point the SNCF will be ensuring that children of authorized adults will be banned altogether from tagging along at such trials after this tragic accident.

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