French rail firm SNCF to stand trial over fatal train crash

French state rail firm SNCF and three employees involved in a deadly crash during testing of a new high-speed train in 2015 are to stand trial over the accident charged with manslaughter, judicial sources said on Monday.

French rail firm SNCF to stand trial over fatal train crash
Photo by Sameer Al-DOUMY / AFP

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.

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French police seize 2.4 tonnes of cannabis near Bordeaux

France’s Economy Minister has praised the work of Bordeaux law officers, after they seized more than 2.4 tonnes of cannabis resin with an estimated street value in excess of €19 million.

French police seize 2.4 tonnes of cannabis near Bordeaux

Bruno Le Maire and Minister Delegate in charge of Public Accounts Gabriel Attal in a joint statement: “Once again, Customs distinguished itself with an exceptional seizure of cannabis, recalling its key role in the fight against drug trafficking. We congratulate the customs officers for their daily commitment to the protection of our fellow citizens.”

Two people were taken into custody after officers stopped a lorry from Spain on the A63, near the Saugnac-et-Muret toll area, just south of Bordeaux, on Monday.

According to Le Figaro, the drugs were hidden in side compartments of the lorry, and concealed by its stated load of wheat, and were discovered by a sniffer dog during the stop.

In total, 2,414.8kg of cannabis resin and 9.75kg of cannabis herb were intercepted by the Bordeaux brigade, with an estimated value of more than €19 million on the illicit market.

Since the end of July, 2022, Customs officials have seized nearly 73 tonnes of drugs, including 41.2 tonnes of cannabis.

The French drugs squad is now investigating to determine the point of origin of the drugs, as well as their destination and the crime network behind the smuggling attempt.