Excessive speed, late braking, caused TGV train crash on Saturday

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Rescue workers labor on the site where a high-speed train derailed in Eckwersheim, near Strasbourg, eastern France, Saturday, Nov. 14. Officials say high speed and delayed braking killed 14 passengers and injured more than 40.
PARIS — French Railways says excessive speed and late braking caused a TGV test train to derail Saturday, killing 14 and injuring more than 40.

Data recovered from the train's event recorders shows the train derailed at 152 mph while on a curve normally designed for 100-mph operation.

The engineer began braking from 206 mph around three quarters of a mile later than he should have. When the train reached the section where it should have been traveling at no more than 110 mph it was still going 166 mph. Authorities say the engineer continued braking but the train derailed around 200 yards later at 152 mph. The engineer survived the accident and initially told investigators he was not exceeding the 110-mph speed limit.

Investigators found that at the time of the accident, there were seven people in the locomotive cab, more than permitted by the railway.

Authorities also say that the presence of four children accompanying family members on the train was not approved, but did not contribute to the crash. All the children survived the accident.

French Railways has confirmed that neither the train or the brand new high speed line were defective. It is unclear why positive train control equipment fitted to the train did not cause the brakes to be applied sooner.

French Railways officials say that tests on the new line will not resume until the investigation is completed in the next several weeks weeks, delaying the planned April 2016 opening.

Initial reports suggested the front power car locomotive had gone into a canal after the derailment, in fact this was the rear one with the front of the train passing (flying) over the canal landing in fields beyond it.
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