Brétigny - was it sabotage?
In my previous post on the Brétigny train crash, there is a short discussion in the comment section about the absence of proof of sabotage. It is true that we don't have proof that the crash itself was a criminal act, but we do have evidence to that effect. Soon after the crash, photos were made public of the damaged track and of the holes where bolts were missing. I just came across this item at Le Salon Beige, which explains, from the point of view of a former railroad man, what might have happened:
- For me, a former railroad engineer, who served the Brétigny station and know it well, it has been an emotional experience. I saw the photos the first day on television, a heavy "éclisse" (i.e., splint), between the point blades of a switch. This was how the Resistance provoked train derailments during the Occupation to prevent the switches from closing. Moreover, I cannot see 1) how a large bolt carefully tightened could come unscrewed by itself 2) how, in addition, it could become totally unscrewed to the point of falling out of its socket 3) how, not just one, but four (or eight, I don't know anymore) bolts could have done the same thing simultaneously 4) how the splint (they say it weighed twenty pounds) once free of its socket could have jumped so far, and landed right where it had to land to derail the train. These four points signify sabotage, but I cannot confirm this.
It does not seem possible to me that the investigators will not reach the same conclusion. But, "mum's the word": it would not be politically correct.
Note: Unfortunately, we may never know what happened. If it was sabotage committed by immigrant thugs, they will be protected. It seems unlikely, though not entirely out of the question, that the SNCF National Railways was negligent. From the description above though, negligence would not have involved such precise and cunning workmanship.
The photo at the top, which appeared in a previous post here, shows the "splint" and the holes. From what the man said, this piece was originally somewhere else, became unbolted, and managed to find its way to the point blades where it lodged, causing the crash.
Those interested in the complexities of railroad switches can turn to Wikipedia.
There is also a lot of discussion about the horrific derailment in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. So far, eighty are dead and many seriously injured. An extraordinary video captured the speeding train as it rounded a bend, turned on its side and crashed. Just as it makes the curve we see what appears to be an electrical explosion. At the end of the video the French prosecutor of Évry explains that the crash in Brétigny is also on video but was not released. The French authorities feel it would be too traumatic for travelers and tourists to see such a video.
Maybe the prosecutor is right, but the 9/11 attacks did not stop anyone from taking airplanes.
Below, a screen capture of the Santiago crash. From the New York Times, where there are many traumatic photos of the disaster.