The train crashed near the eastern city of Strasbourg on November 14th, 2015, causing 11 deaths and leaving 42 with injuries during a test run to which the families of senior SNCF employees had been invited.
Experts consulted by investigators believe that the train was travelling at 265 kilometres an hour when it took a corner with a speed limit of 176 kmh, leading it to derail a few hundred metres after.
Excessive speed and late braking were found to be the causes, while SNCF admitted that there were seven people in the driver’s carriage instead of the authorised four.
The SNCF, two subsidiaries including Systra, the company responsible for railway tests, as well as three employees are to stand trial for manslaughter caused by “clumsiness, carelessness, negligence or failure to follow safety procedures,” legal sources told AFP.
“I acknowledge the decision of the investigating magistrates (to order a trial) while I do not share their analysis of the law and the facts,” a lawyer for Systra, Philippe Goossens, told AFP.