Skip to main content

French rail chief blames train derailment on faulty switch part

By Saskya Vandoorne and Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
updated 1:09 PM EDT, Mon July 15, 2013
Rescuers work on the site of a train accident in the railway station of Bretigny-sur-Orge, on Friday, July 12 near Paris. The train was passing through the station but was not scheduled to stop there, according to Guillaume Pepy, president of the French national railway company, SNCF. Rescuers work on the site of a train accident in the railway station of Bretigny-sur-Orge, on Friday, July 12 near Paris. The train was passing through the station but was not scheduled to stop there, according to Guillaume Pepy, president of the French national railway company, SNCF.
HIDE CAPTION
French train derails
French train derails
French train derails
French train derails
French train derails
French train derails
French train derails
French train derails
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Death toll stands definitively at six, government official says
  • French rail company chief says a part disconnected from the switching mechanism
  • 22 others were injured in the derailment south of Paris
  • French President Francois Hollande visited the scene of the derailment

(CNN) -- A fatal train derailment south of Paris was caused by a part disconnecting from the switching mechanism on the tracks, the head of the French national railway company said Saturday.

Six people were killed and 22 others injured late Friday afternoon when four cars of the train, a regional service bound for the city of Limoges, went off the track at Bretigny-sur-Orge station.

On Saturday night, officials said the death toll was definitive.

"We are now sure that there are no additional victims," said Michel Fuzeau, the prefect for the Essonne department. A train car that was lying on its side at the station was lifted up and then inspected by firefighters and police, who did not find any additional victims, Fuzeau said.

At least six dead in French train wreck
Passenger describes France train wreck
Many casualties in French train wreck

Various government officials and authorities had earlier given conflicting death tolls.

A moment's silence for the victims was to be observed at noon Saturday at rail stations and on trains across France, said Guillaume Pepy, president of the railway company SNCF.

Services have been suspended on the line where the accident occurred, Pepy said.

Footage from the station Friday showed a scene of devastation, with the derailed train cars twisted and crumpled across the platform and track. Rescue workers searched the wreckage for the dead and injured.

French President Francois Hollande visited the scene of the derailment Friday, when he praised the work of emergency responders.

Hollande, who said he'd traveled on the route before, announced three investigations: a judicial inquiry, an internal inquiry within SNCF and an inquiry that will be handled by the country's transport ministry.

The train was carrying about 370 people at the time of the incident.

Alain Krakovitch, responsible for rail service safety and quality at SNCF, told BFMTV that the train was traveling at a normal speed when it reached Bretigny-sur-Orge about 20 minutes after its departure from Paris Austerlitz.

The train and station platform were busy with travelers on what is a holiday weekend in France.

A passenger in the first car of the train, whose name was given only as Laurent, told BFMTV he had felt a powerful shaking, lasting 10 to 15 seconds. Smoke was everywhere, he said.

His rail car remained on the track, but the passengers could see the derailed cars behind, he said.

Officials praised the swift reaction of the train's driver, which meant other train services were halted before they could hit the wreckage.

"The train driver had an extraordinary reflex in immediately signaling the alert," Transport Minister Frederic Cuvillier told BFMTV.

Freight train hits truck and derails in Maryland

Death toll in Canadian train disaster at 35

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 7:48 AM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
The possibility of pockets of air remaining within the hull of the sunken South Korean ferry offers hope to rescuers -- and relatives -- say experts.
updated 7:45 AM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
Despite hundreds still missing after the sinking of a South Korean ferry, reports of text messages keep hope alive that there may be survivors yet.
updated 8:37 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Mentions of the 1989 Tiananmen Square student protests or political reform are still censored in China.
updated 1:31 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
It's hard not to be nervous, standing outside the Ebola isolation wards.
updated 5:31 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Russia's propaganda worse now than at height of Cold War, says Leon Aron, director of Russian studies at AEI.
Sanctions imposed against Russia are working as a deterrent, President Barack Obama and other White House senior administration officials said.
updated 12:40 AM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
A lack of progress in the search for MH370 is angering the families of victims.
updated 5:16 PM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Officials are launching their next option: an underwater vehicle to scan the ocean floor.
updated 11:09 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
The searches for the Titanic and Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 share common techniques.
updated 7:35 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
An "extraordinary" video shows what looks like the largest and most dangerous gathering of al Qaeda in years.
updated 11:35 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
This year's Pyongyang marathon was open to foreign amateurs.
updated 8:30 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Explore each side's case, reconstructed from Pistorius' court affidavit and the prosecution's case during last year's bail hearing.
updated 1:53 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
How are police preparing for this year's 26.2-mile marathon, which takes place Monday?
updated 1:02 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Katrina Karkazis
Romance is hard, for anyone. For people with intersex traits, love poses unique challenges.
updated 8:38 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Suisse's Belinda Bencic returns the ball to France's Alize Cornet during the second match of the Fed Cup first round tennis tie France vs Switzerland on February 8, 2014 at the Pierre de Coubertin stadium in Paris. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD (Photo credit should read KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
It's no easy matter becoming a world class tennis player. It's even harder when everyone (really -- everyone) is calling you the "new Martina Hingis".
updated 5:26 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
The "kill switch," a system for remotely disabling smartphones and wiping their data, will become standard in 2015.
updated 11:52 AM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
Browse through images you don't always see on news reports from CNN teams around the world.
ADVERTISEMENT