Brétigny-sur-Orge report recommendations to be adopted

French Transport Minister Frédéric Cuvillier has urged SNCF and RFF to implement the recommendations made in a preliminary report into the fatal Brétigny-sur-Orge rail crash.

On January 10, the French Land Transport Accident Investigation Bureau (BEA-TT) published a progress report into the accident in which seven people were killed when a train approaching Brétigny-sur-Orge derailed and crashed into a station platform.

The report suggested that the derailment had been caused by a loose fishplate that had become dislodged as the train passed over. Inspectors believe the head of one of the bolts holding the connection in place had sheared, most likely caused the tension from a crack inside the steel crossing. The resulting pressure on the remaining three bolts then sheared the heads off of two more bolts and loosened another.

The report showed that a visual track inspection conducted prior to the incident on July 4 had not been able to identify the full extent of the fault.

Recommendations made in the document included improving technical specifications and the quality of materials for bolted track components, and ensuring there is compliance with the requirements and specifications for tightening of bolts as well as overall installation and maintenance.

BEA-TT also suggested to “clarify and strengthen” the rules on managing detected abnormalities with bolted switches by setting a maximum length of time between detection and intervention.

Finally, the report recommended identifying switches that require more regular or enhanced maintenance.

Following the accident, SNCF and RFF launched the three-year €410 million VIGIRAIL programme designed to improve the monitoring and maintenance of switches and fastrack the renewal of switches across the network.