Residents of Fuente de Piedra are calling for uncontrolled level crossings to be eradicated after a train travelling between Seville and Malaga hit a lorry on a crossing of that type between the town and Bobadilla on Tuesday, and injured four people. The train pushed the lorry for about 75 metres before being able to stop.
The company which owns the lorry is based in Fuente de Piedra, and one of the occupants of the vehicle, who was seriously injured and was taken by emergency helicopter to the Clínico hospital in Malaga, lives there. His condition is still serious but he is said to be out of danger.
The other occupant of the lorry and two passengers on the train, one of them a pregnant woman, were also injured and needed medical attention at the scene.
The train is the medium-distance type which runs on the old track between Seville and Malaga, covering the journey in two and a half hours, not the AVE high speed service. It was carrying 90 passengers at the time of the accident.
The lorry was on the crossing, which has no barriers (contrary to a statement by Adif at the time) and was returning from collecting bales of straw from an agricultural area of olive groves and fields. There are no houses in that area, but the road is quite busy because people work on farms and fields there, explained the mayor of Fuente de Piedra, Francisco Hidalgo, who went to the scene of the accident. For reasons which are now being investigated, the train hit the cab of the lorry, which was completely destroyed.
"Split in two"
"There was a big crash, a lot of noise and then the drivers came running out," said one passenger who had been in the front carriage of the train. "The lorry was completely split in two."
The passengers had to remain on board the train until 6pm, waiting for a bus to take them to their destination because the track ahead was completely blocked by the remains of the vehicle and is in an area difficult to reach by road. "The Renfe staff behaved very correctly, they came to see how we were," said the passenger.
The Renfe railway company says the train left Seville for Malaga at 1.04pm. Other services were not affected as alternative tracks are available in the area.
The emergency services were quickly on the scene, including the Guardia Civil, Local Police, ambulances and the fire brigade from Antequera. Several specialists from the Adif and Renfe railway companies were also there.
After inspecting the damaged train, experts said it must have been travelling at about 100 kilometres per hour and started to sound its horn and brake at least one kilometre before hitting the lorry. Adif has started an investigation and will provide the Guardia Civil and judicial authorities with its conclusions.
The mayor of Fuente de Piedra and several local residents who had gone to the scene complained about the lack of visibility for drivers of lorries and tractors at that point, and called on Adif to remove all the level crossings in the municipality or, at least, fit them with barriers. "They have to create alternative ways for traffic so they don't have to use level crossings. They should be eliminated completely," insisted Francisco Hidalgo.
With regard to the occupants of the lorry, the most seriously hurt was a 44-year-old man who was rushed to hospital in Malaga with a complicated injury to his right arm and a craneo-facial wound which will need reconstruction surgery, according to the 112 emergency service.
The other three people who were injured were taken to Antequera hospital. One was the other occupant of the lorry, a 21-year-old man who suffered several injuries but remained conscious.
The other two were on the train: a 35-year-old woman who is seven months pregnant, who was suffering from pains in the stomach and was examined to make sure the baby was unhurt, and a 21-year-old woman who suffered a cervical sprain and bruising.