Automatically translated from Basque, translation may contain errors. More information here. Elhuyarren itzultzaile automatikoaren logoa

"The first thing that Renfe and Adif did after the death of our relatives was to lie."

  • Raúl Fuentes (Orduña) and Gonzalo Faustman (Arrigorriaga) lost their mother and daughter in train accidents in Gardea and Areta. They are now fighting to clarify the truth and to take measures to prevent accidents.
Raul Fuentesek eta Gonzalo Faustmanek ma eta alaba galdu zituzten tren istripuetan. Argazkia:

13 April 2023 - 08:10

Raúl Fuentes' mother died in December 2022 at Gardea train station. Gonzalo Faustman's daughter died in Sala in September 2016. In both cases it was captured by a train in the hallway and in both cases several experiences are repeated. Firstly, the public companies Renfe and Adif (Railway Infrastructure Manager) failed the victims. “In my mother’s case, they said I was crossing the railroad with a walker. My mother wasn't using that. They also said they were lying about their age,” Fuentes reports.

Faustman lived a similar situation: “I read in a Vocento newspaper that my daughter went with headphones and that’s why she got the train. There were ten witnesses at the train station and none of them said so. I asked the journalist where he got that information and he told me the source was Renfe.”

Renfe said Raúl Fuentes's mother was using a taca when she was hit by the train, but she says it's not true

Therefore, the first objective of the struggle undertaken by both is to know what actually happened in the accidents. “In the case of my mother, we had to ask the Ertzaintza to investigate what happened, to clarify what has actually happened,” says Fuentes. Fautsman also had to go to court in search of the truth: “In the case of my daughter Adif made a one-page report: I received the temperature, they said everything worked well, and all they specified was that the cleaning of the locomotive cost four euros and that delays occurred until the removal”.

It has been six and a half years since Faustman denounced and the process has not ended. To lies and the lack of answers to their questions, it should be added that Renfe and Adif have also shown an obstructive attitude. “A couple of months ago we went with the EFE Agency to the Gardea train station to record a report. The journalist asked them for permission to record there and when we arrived we were awaiting a security operator not to enter the infrastructure.”

For companies to comply with the law

These harsh circumstances and the attitude of companies prevent us from overcoming grief by failing to comply with the laws established by the State itself. According to the royal decree adopted on 19 July 2014, Renfe and Adif should help the victims psychologically, legally and economically. But they don't actually.

“Based on the 2014 law, they should contact the victims’ relatives, but they do not. We have had to call them and ask them by the royal decree they have replied that they know nothing about it. Following the complaint campaign in 2023, the Ministry of Transport and companies have set up two cell phones for victim care, but we have called and offer nothing. She calls her a psychologist and her only message is that she knows nothing and has no competence to provide psychological, legal or economic support. Because they are big companies, they don’t comply with the law, but nobody can think of a small private company doing it,” they stress.

Lives or money

The struggles of Raúl Fuentes and Gonzalo Faustman put two problems on the table. On the one hand, in the criminal field it is very difficult to establish responsibilities. “As for the procedure, it is very rare that someone has done something wrong, we only have the civil way. So if nobody has failed, why do the catches occur? They think it is always the victim’s fault,” Fuentes reflected.

To explain the capture of Faustman's daughter, Renfe said he was wearing headphones, but the accident witnesses denied him.

Between 2010 and 2021 94 people died in train steps in Spain, so the problem is no less. “It is surprising with the existing new technologies, that nothing is implanted in all the existing steps to prevent such accidents,” Fuentes said. Gonzalo Faustman, for his part, explained that he met with the security officer to call for further action and insisted that it was impossible.

For both the core of the knot is clear: “You have to invest in building safe train steps. Today they spend all the money on the high-speed train and prefer to spend on it rather than saving lives. Because it is cheaper to pay a judgment, even if it is lost, rather than execute the necessary investments.”

In this sense, both Raúl Fuentes and Gonzalo Faustman declare themselves fortunate: “We have sufficient financial means, family and support and psychological availability to face such a process, but many people do not report. The only support on this road has been the association of trapped people, no one else has done anything, at best, good words.”

Objective: no more deaths

Despite the continuous meetings between Renfe and Adif with silence, the mission of Raúl Fuentes and Gonzalo Faustman is very clear for the government and companies to take steps to prevent these preventable deaths from occurring. “Much remains to be done. For example, trains can travel 120 kilometres per hour as they pass through the train stations, but the Euskotren limit is 40 kilometres per hour. I am not a security expert, but there is clearly room for improvement.”

Raúl Fuentes believes that society as a whole is unaware of the risk it poses, although the deaths are numerous. That is why they have a responsibility to change the situation: “Institutions and companies want to cover everything. Consequently, only we can bring forth this reality.”

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