The cause seems to be human errorSpain's worst rail disaster in about 70 years took place when a high-speed train carrying 222 people derailed on July 24 in Santiago de Compostela. Travelling from Madrid to Ferrol, the train apparently went way too fast - over twice the 80 kph limit in that curve - according to the recovered 'black box'. The tragedy was recorded by a CCTV camera (video below). Some sources even report that the conductor boasted on Facebook about his speeding... Right now the number of dead stands at 80 and the injured at 178, but these numbers still fluctuate as new information comes in.
Rail is a very safe way to move people and goods around, though like air travel, accidents are usually spectacular and get lots of media attention, giving the impression that they are more frequent than they actually are... Yet we can always improve things, and I hope that this tragedy - along with others like the Lac-Megantic one - will lead to a worldwide safety review. With modern technology, it should be possible to make these kinds of human errors even rarer.