Argentina’s Auditor-General Leandro Despouy stated that TBA which holds the Sarmiento and Mitre train lines’ concessions should automatically lose all contracts after the fatal train crash that killed 50 and left more than 700 injured in Once Central Station in downtown Buenos Aires.
“After what happened, we have all necessary proofs to call the contract termination, but that’s something that the government [Executive power] must decide.”
Likewise, Despouy remembered that back in 2008 the Nation’s General Audit (AGN in Spanish) presented an assessment on Argentina’s rail system and service, which included thorough warning remarks on TBA for “not having exhibited all maintenance plans requested by the AGN.”
“What happened is not new. By 2008 the audit we ran revealed that the company levels of failure to comply with orders and procedures were high. Actually the Executive branch could have easily terminated the concession contract.”
To end, Despouy announced that AGN will release a new report on Argentina’s rail transport next week.
Meanwhile the investigation continues and is now focused on the hypothesis that faulty breaks may have caused the engine to plough into Once station buffers.
The blood test performed on machine driver Marcos Córdoba revealed that he was not under the influence of alcohol or other substances at the moment of the train crash. The test was performed as a request of Judge Claudio Bonadío, who handles the case.
But unofficial sources said the machine driver was distracted by his mobile phone and failed to pull the emergency brakes as the train entered the tragic platform 2.
Miguel Ángel Gerónimo who was on the train the day of the crash as the guard on duty, and therefore a key witness of the case said that “the journey was totally normal…nothing strange happened until the crash”.
The only statement so far from TBA that holds the concession of the crashed train was from Director Roque Cirigliano, cousin of the owners of the company, brothers Claudio and Mario Cirigliano.
Roque Cirigliano on the day of the accident turned out at the Once station and defended the service and assured that TBA “offers an acceptable service; we invest much more in the company than others.”
He also said that “it’s probable that the accident was caused by human error” due to the fact that the train in use “was in good condition.”
“With the system the train uses it is not likely that there could be a fault with the breaks. It would be very unlikely,” sustained Cirigliano to the press. He added that, “the 8-carriage train formation had been recently inspected.”
When questioned over what he had to say to the victims of the crash, he remained silent. He left the train station where the accident occurred amid a barrage of insults.
Meanwhile railway union leader Ruben Sobrero said that the accident had been predicted by his union for some time.
“We have been stating that this would happen for a while, we have been putting the spotlight on the issue for eight years” said Sobrero who is also a controversial union figure. “Our body of shop stewards has been publicizing how the railways are operated for some time”, he added.
A left wing militant union leader distanced from the main Argentine organized labour grouping, Sobrero was briefly imprisoned last year on accusations of sabotaging trains.