French rail operator SNCF fined over fatal 2013 train crash near Paris

Access to the comments Comments
By AFP  with Euronews
The intercity train derailed at a station, south of Paris, with 385 people on board.
The intercity train derailed at a station, south of Paris, with 385 people on board.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Jacques Brinon, File

France’s national rail operator has been convicted of manslaughter over a deadly train crash near Paris nine years ago.

SNCF was found criminally responsible for the accident, which killed seven people and injured more than 400 others.

The 3657 Intercity Paris-Limoges train derailed at Brétigny-sur-Orge station, south of the French capital, on 12 July 2013.

Investigators later found that a broken metal bar had caused the train to leave the tracks and hit the station platform.

On Wednesday, the court in Evry found SNCF guilty of involuntary injury and manslaughter and fined the French state company €300,000.

But former SNCF employee Laurent Waton and SNCF Réseau, a subsidiary company responsible for managing the railway line, were cleared by the court. Waton had carried out the last surveillance of the track eight days before the accident.

Victims’ associations had accused SNCF of failing to maintain the track, which led to "the decay of the suburban network".

The French company had acknowledged its “moral responsibility” for the derailment but claimed that the accident was caused by an undetectable defect in the steel.

But the court found that the metal bar had been damaged since 2008 and had been poorly maintained for five years.

"This negligence in monitoring the core is definitely linked to the derailment," the judge said on Wednesday.

SNCF has confirmed that it will not appeal the verdict "out of respect for the victims ... [and] to avoid making them relive this tragedy through a second trial".

The company said it had already paid €13 million euros to direct or indirect victims of the crash.