Friday, March 2, 2012

Argentina to take over rail firm after accident

BUENOS AIRES -- The Argentine government Tuesday ordered the temporary takeover of the TBA rail company nearly a week after a crash of one of the operator's trains which killed 51 people and injured more than 700. Planning Minister Julio de Vido said President Cristina Kirchner ordered the action due to “the public interest and the security of users.”

The official said the government would assume control for 15 days or until a criminal investigation is completed.
Fifty-one people died and another 703 were injured in last Wednesday's crash, when the train slammed into a bumper at Terminal Once. The train was carrying about 2,000 people.
The severity of the rail disaster for Argentina ranked behind only the 1970 train accident in Benavides that killed 236 people and the 1978 wreck in Santa Fe province that resulted in 55 deaths.
The Argentine inspector general, who oversees the functioning of the state railways, called last week for authorities to cancel the concession to private company Trains of Buenos Aires (TBA), which operated the train and is part of the Cirigliano Group.
The top official, who audited the same suburban train line in 2008, said the accident was caused by a “lack of respect for the most basic rules.”
No charges have been filed in the case, but Kirchner has called for an expedited investigation.
Transport Minister Juan Pablo Schiavi said the trains would continue to function.
“Maybe there will be fewer trains, maybe the schedules will be adjusted but this should not lead to chaos,” Schiavi said.
The line where the accident occurred, known as the Sarmiento branch, carries a daily average of 250,000 passengers in the Argentine capital region of some 14 million people.
The line was among those privatized under the 1989-99 government of president Carlos Menem, who privatized oil and gas companies, electricity producers and some 10,000 kilometers (6,000 miles) of rail lines.

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