Spain rail crash: 'No malfunction reported'

Engine of crashed train. 25 July 2013
Image caption The train was said to be travelling at more than twice the speed limit

The head of Spain's public railways says the crew of the train which derailed at high speed last month killing 79 people had not reported any problems before the crash.

Renfe chief Julio Gomez-Pomar was speaking to a parliamentary panel about the crash near Santiago de Compostela.

The derailment on 24 July also left about 170 people injured.

Train driver Francisco Jose Garzon Amo is under investigation but has not been formally charged.

"Throughout the journey there is no record of communication from the train to the monitoring centre to report any damage or abnormality," Mr Gomez-Pomar said.

He said all normal security procedures had been followed and that the driver had not been on duty more than the standard number of hours, having just returned to work after two days off.

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Media captionRenfe boss Julio Gomez Pomar says help was sent "from the moment Renfe was aware of the accident"

The BBC's Guy Hedgecoe in Madrid says the parliamentary session is not expected to look at the causes of the accident.

Instead, MPs want to know what measures have been taken since then to improve safety.

The train's "black box" data recorder has revealed that Mr Garzon was talking to a colleague on his work phone and consulting documents just before the derailment.

Judicial authorities have said the train was travelling at 192km/h (119mph) - more than twice the speed limit - on the bend where it derailed.

All eight carriages careered off the tracks on the express route between Madrid and the port city of Ferrol on the Galician coast.

The Renfe chief said that on the day of the crash the train had undergone a thorough technical inspection and nothing abnormal had been found. The brakes were in perfect condition, he said.

In addition, he said there were three warning signs on the line telling drivers about the bend near Santiago de Compostela where the train derailed and where the speed limit was 80km/h.

Mr Gomez-Pomar said that under Renfe's rules drivers are banned from sending text messages during journeys, they can only use their work phone if strictly necessary and are not allowed to make calls on their personal phone.

Spain's Minister of Public Works Ana Pastor will address the panel on Friday and announce extra measures to prevent such accidents in future, the Renfe chief said.