More than 80 passengers were killed on the evening of Wednesday July 24th and more than 150 injured, when their train, thought to be travelling at more than twice the limit for the curved section of track derailed on the long bend near Santago de Compostela in Galicia, North-West Spain and hit a wall. The dead and injured were in carriages that were concertinaed between the front and back engines when the crash, at 120 mph, happened.

The train, from Madrid, was taking many passengers to the annual Christian festival held at Santiago de Compostela and attended by hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from all over Spain and France. Some of the planned ceremonies were cancelled and the Spanish government, which owns the train operating company Renfe, declared three days of national morning.

There are strong indications that the train was deliberately being driven at twice the limit and an investigation is being launched into why built-in safety features designed to automatically slow or stop runaway trains on the Renfe network failed to operate.

Spain, like many other European countries, has developed its high-speed network to create a viable and cost-effective alternative to air travel.

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