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ETCS that prevents trains from going over speed not operable on Santiago crash train

© Contando Estrelas Wikimedia CC 2.0 Generic
Spanish transport minister Mr Rafael Catala has confirmed in a radio broadcast that excessive speed is believed to be a factor in the derailment of a Madrid - Ferrol service 4km south of Santiago de Compostela on July 24, which killed 78 people.

Police are waiting to question the hospitalised driver, who is under formal investigation, and the train event recorder has now been recovered from the wreckage for analysis.

The accident occurred in the transition section between ETCS Level 1, which is used on the 87km Ourense - Santiago high-speed line over which the train had travelled, and the standard Spanish Asfa system used on the conventional network. Santiago is one of dozens of ETCS-Asfa transition points on the Spanish network.

IRJ has learned from a senior source at Renfe that while ETCS is operable on the Ourense - Santiago high-speed line, class 730 sets of the type involved in the derailment operate exclusively on Asfa on this route despite the fact that they are equipped with ETCS. All other passenger trains operating on this line, including the fleet of class 121 Avant emus, operate on ETCS. The reasons for this have not yet been firmly established.

Spanish train driver told witnesses immediately after crash 'he was unable to slow down to the necessary 80 km/h before sharp curve'


Edward Snowden's father says FBI asked him to fly to Moscow

© Peter Kramer/AP
Edward Snowden's father, Lon Snowden, who said he was not going to be an 'emotional tool' for the FB
Lon Snowden says his son will be 'treated horribly' if he returns to US and in his place he would stay in Russia

The father of the whistleblower Edward Snowden has said the FBI tried to persuade him to fly to Moscow so that he could encourage his son to return to the United States.

"I said: 'I want to be able to speak with my son ... Can you set up communications?' and it was 'Well, we are not sure,'" Lon Snowden told the Washington Post. "I said: 'Wait a minute, folks, I'm not going to sit on the tarmac to be an emotional tool for you.'"

Snowden's father, who is retired from the US Coast Guard, also said he preferred Edward to remain in Russia, where he is stuck in the transit zone of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport while Russia considers his request for temporary asylum.

"If he comes back to the United States, he is going to be treated horribly. He is going to be thrown into a hole. He is not going to be allowed to speak." The 52-year-old said he had been as "surprised as the rest of America" when his son, who worked for a contractor, was revealed as the source of the leaks about surveillance by the National Security Agency to the Guardian. "As a father it pains me what he did," Snowden said. "I wish my son could simply have sat in Hawaii and taken the big paycheck, lived with his beautiful girlfriend and enjoyed paradise. But as an American citizen, I am absolutely thankful for what he did."


Spanish train driver told witnesses immediately after crash 'he was unable to slow down to the necessary 80 km/h before sharp curve'

© Marcio Machado/Zuma/Eyevine
At about the point where the crash happened, one safety system switches to another
Why did Francisco José Garzón, a train driver with 30 years' experience, hit a bend at 190 kilometres per hour when the speed limit was 80 km/h? Did he ignore the automated warnings? Or did his train's alert system fail at a critical time?

An inquiry is under way into the derailing of the packed train, which killed 79 people in Santiago de Compostela, north-west Spain on 24 July. Garzón has admitted to "confusion" over the train's speed and, though freed on bail, is facing the prospect of 79 charges of negligent homicide.

One focus of the investigation will be the fact that the crash took place at a point where one safety system hands over to another - from one that controls the train's speed to one that does not. On high-speed sections, the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) intervenes wirelessly to ensure a train slows down if alerts are ignored.

Crucially, ERTMS cuts in if its alerts are ignored. It does so using GSM-R - a robust railway version of the GSM standard used by cellphones to communicate with the cell towers.

"ERTMS has all sorts of measures that prevent trains going over speed and will eventually be fitted over the whole route from Santiago to Madrid," says Roger Kemp, a safety-critical systems engineer specialising in railway technology at Lancaster University, UK. "But it is not a finished project."

This means that, 4 kilometres from Santiago de Compostela, on a slower, bendier section of track that snakes through the town, ERTMS has not yet been fitted. Instead, an older Spanish-developed system called ASFA advises the driver of the necessary safe speeds. But ASFA can only intervene if the driver does not respond.

"The driver only has to acknowledge that they have seen the speed advisory by pushing a button - otherwise the system will apply the brakes - but you don't have to comply with that speed under ASFA," says Kemp.

Spanish TV station Antena 3 says that Garzón told some witnesses immediately after the crash that he was not able to slow down to the necessary 80 km/h before the sharp curve - but it is not known why.


Telangana: new Indian state closer to reality after government approval

Telangana state
© Noah Seelam/AFP/Getty
University students in Hyderabad celebrate the government's decision to create Telangana state
Telangana: new Indian state closer to reality after government approval

Ruling coalition led by Congress party votes in favour of hiving off part of Andhra Pradesh to create India's 29th state

India's ruling coalition government, led by the Congress party, has backed demands for the creation of a new state called Telangana in southern India, immediately spurring activists to repeat other long-standing demands for similar measures elsewhere in the vast country.

The new state - India's 29th - would be carved out of the existing southern state of Andhra Pradesh. Activists have long argued that the drought-prone northern area of Andhra Pradesh is underdeveloped and ignored by powerful politicians from the south.

Residents of the 10 districts that form Telangana say they are discriminated against in the allocation of state funds, water and jobs. The state is currently run from Hyderabad, a city known for its booming information technology industry.



Cop sexually assaults woman in courtroom, then arrests her 'for making false claim against police officer'

Las Vegas - Multiple employees and managers at the Clark County family court are under investigation for allegedly covering up a sexual assault by a court marshal.

The I-Team has uncovered video showing a woman claiming a court marshal sexually assaulted her. She was later arrested by that same marshal. The marshal has since been fired.

The I-Teams investigation shows how the internal affairs investigation is revealing much larger problems at family court.

There are multiple marshals involved and allegations ranging from sexual assaults to choking a citizen in court. The investigation began with a 2011 video that shows family court marshals arresting a woman because she claimed one of them sexually assaulted her.


Just days after country's worst ever train crash, 'biggest international contract in the history of Spanish construction' sees Spain win $22.5 billion Saudi rail contract


Saudi King Faisal with Spain's King Juan Carlos
Saudi Arabia has granted a Spanish consortium a $7.88 billion (€5.94 billion) contract to build three metro lines in Riyadh but another key bid for a high-speed rail project in Brazil remains under threat after the recent train crash in Spain which killed at least 79 people.

The Riyadh metro contract is one of three Saudi Arabia has granted to foreign consortiums, the kingdom announced at a news conference in the capital late on Sunday.

The combined value of the contracts is $22.5 billion (16.9 billion euros) and the consortiums are led by Spanish, US and Italian firms.

The 176-kilometre (110-mile) six-line network is aimed at easing chronic traffic congestion in Riyadh, a city of six million people.

Spanish-led BTP-FCC consortium will build three of the metro lines for $7.88 billion, after it beat competition from 38 groups that were vying for the project.

It is "the biggest international contract in the history of Spanish construction", the Spanish consortium said in a statement on Monday.


Body of train driver found among the wreckage of two trains that collided head on in Switzerland

Crash happened near Granges-Marnand station at 7pm local time

Police, ambulances, helicopters and firefighters are on the scene

Comes just days after 79 people were killed in derailment in Spain

The body of the train driver has been found in the wreckage following a head-on train crash in Switzerland that left at least 35 passengers injured.

The driver was pulled from the debris two trains collided on the same track after travelling towards each other near Granges-Marnand station in the west of the country.

Dozens of passengers were hurt, four of them seriously, in the crash, which happened just before 7pm local time (6pm BST).


Rescue workers are seen at the site of a head-on collision between two trains near Granges-pres-Marnand, near Payerne in western Switzerland

Comment: There have been an unusually high number of train accidents and derailments recently, along with an increase in airplane emergency landings all around the world. Is the Universe sending us a message? The global train is running off the tracks!

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Unarmed Florida man shot by police 'firing squad'

florida police
© AFP Photo / Joe Raedle
The police department in Escambia County, Florida is under investigation after multiple officers opened fire on a 60-year-old man in his own driveway over the weekend, seemingly without explanation.

Two sheriff's deputies - Jeremiak Meeks and Matthew White - responded to a 911 call about a possible burglary at approximately 3am local time on Saturday. When they arrived, Roy Middleton was leaning into his mother's car in front of his home, looking for cigarettes.

The officers claim they called out to Middleton several times, demanding that he put up his hands before he supposedly lunged at them.

Middleton, who was unarmed except for keys and a flashlight, was shot in the leg. At least five bullets hit his mother's car and the side of her house.

"It was like a firing squad," Middleton told the Pensacola News Journal, maintaining that he backed out of the car slowly and made his hands visible before police shot him. "Bullets were flying everywhere."

Arrow Up

Shock 'n' roll... radio DJs Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity dropped after ad boycott


America's two biggest shock jocks just got a shock of their own. In a major blow to their broadcasting dominance, the second-largest radio station owner in the US is said to be dropping both Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity from its airwaves.

According to a report by Politico, Cumulus Media has decided not to renew contracts with the two talk radio titans at the end of 2013, meaning their radio shows will vanish from more than 40 of its stations across the US.

Limbaugh and Hannity remain the highest-rated talk radio hosts in the US, with Limbaugh regularly claiming a listenership of 15 million. In 2012 he suffered a significant blow to his reputation, after describing 30-year-old graduate law student Sandra Fluke as a "slut" and a "prostitute" on his show.

Birthday Cake

'UFO' in Shanghai found to be cake deliverer

UFO Cake Deliverer
© Stomp
A small "unidentified flying object" that has been seen over Shanghai's Huangpu River in recent days has been revealed to be a remote controlled plane being used to deliver cakes, reported Shanghai-based news website eastday.com.

The "UFO", which is 1.1 meters long and weighs 10 kg, crossed the Huangpu River in a 45-minute flight to deliver a cake to a customer, according to the bakery that was testing the device, which flies at a maximum height of 100 meters.

While some residents applauded the novel delivery service, others worried about its safety as people could be hurt if it falls from the air.

Currently there are no regulations on commercial use of remote controlled planes being used for deliveries.

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