Argentina's government on Thursday revoked the commuter railway concession for a company whose train crashed in February, killing 51 people and injuring 703.
The Trains of Buenos Aires company, which operated some commuter rail lines in the Buenos Aires metropolitan region since the operations were privatized in 1995, failed to adequately maintain equipment, ignored multiple sanctions and fines, and allowed quality to seriously deteriorate, Planning Minister Julio de Vido said.
The company's Sarmiento and Mitre lines, which carry hundreds of thousands of people into Buenos Aires each day, will be operated on a temporary basis by executives from two other regional train systems, de Vido said.
A criminal investigation continues into the cause of the Feb. 22 crash. The motorman testified that the brakes failed before the train smashed into the Once station.
Union and government officials blamed the company's executives for the disaster.
De Vido said the company had at least 250 fines pending for irregularities in its train service, and he blamed privatization policies of previous governments for ruining the system.
He said that despite 4.5 billion dollars in train investments by the current government, Argentina's rail system has failed to recover from a gigantic process of emptying since 1955, which led to the loss of nearly 10,000 kilometres of track, about 30,000 jobs and the closing of stations.
However the opposition blasted the announcement saying that government regulators, named by the Cristina and Nestor Kirchner administrations failed in complying with their responsibilities, given reiterated claims from independent experts on the lack of maintenance works and passengers complaints about the dreadful and dangerous conditions of the Trains of Buenos Aires company system.
Besides TBA belongs to the family (Sergio and Antonio) Cirigliano, originally local bus operators who based on good political contacts ended with the railway concessions of the commuter companies. The family is known to have had until the tragic accident a fluid dialogue with Cristina Fernandez and some of her close aides and was strong contributors to the political coffers.