Rail Travel in Spain

by Tyson on Friday, July 26, 2013

Santiago de Compostela

From don Quijote, we offer our sincere condolences to the families and friends of the victims that lost their lives in last Wednesday’s train derailment that occurred just outside of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain. We also offer our sympathies to those who were injured in the tragedy.

The accident comes as a shock in a country with a railway system that was described this week by NBC news as “one of the most modern and successful in Europe, following decades of investment”. Over 570 million passengers travel by rail here per year, making Spain 10th in the world in terms of countries with the most rail travelers. The Washington Post wrote yesterday that Europe’s trains are among those with the “highest safety rates in the world”. The paper went on to quote the head of the European Railway Agency’s safety unit Chris Car who said that Spain has a “better-than-average safety record”.

Many on board the train heading to Santiago Wednesday night were going to celebrate the city’s annual St. James festival. St. James’ shrine in this city is the final destination of the popular spiritual pilgrimage el Camino de Santiago, which has attracted Christian pilgrims since the middle ages. Today tens of thousands of people come each year to follow the historic pilgrimage route. This year’s St. James festivities were cancelled after the tragedy, Spain’s worst train accident in four decades. Three days of national mourning were also declared. Many world leaders have publicly expressed their condolences including Spanish President Mariano Rajoy, U.S. president Barak Obama, and Pope Francis.

Although these types of tragedies do happen, Rail News editor Sim Harris has reminded observers that “accidents like this are incredibly rare”. The train driver is currently being investigated for exceeding the speed limit, implying that the accident was likely caused by human error and could have been avoided. National safety authorities, as required by the European Union, closely monitor all aspects of the safety of the railways in Spain.

Keywords: travel in spain,santiago de compostela,railway in spain,trains in spain,travelling in spain,rail travel in spain


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