Sorrow at worst Argentinian crash for 40 years

23 February 2012

At least 49 people were killed and over 600 injured when a train crashed into the barriers at Once station in Buenos Aires yesterday. Two days of mourning have been called.

Last year 23 people died and over 300 were injured in train accidents in Argentina and a former Argentinian rail chief, Juan Alberto Roccatagliata, said that investment and maintenance levels ‘have not been up to what is required to reduce the probability of things like this happening.’

The Buenos Aires rail system was privatised in the 1990s in the hope of boosting investment in infrastructure. However, Pablo Martorelli, president of the Argentine Rail Institute says, ‘This did not happen as the contracts given to private companies did not oblige them to invest in the network. Companies are not interested in investing as they already get their income from state subsidies.’

A spokesperson for the train workers' union said the tragedy was ‘the responsibility of a company that is known for insufficient maintenance and improvisation’ and also blamed ‘lack of controls’ by the state.

It was Argentina's worst train crash since February 1970, when a train smashed into another at full speed in suburban Buenos Aires, killing 200 people.

Mick Whelan has written to the Argentinian union to express our deep sorrow at the incident and to offer any practical support we can offer.

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