Data from the recorders – the so-called black boxes – recovered from the wreckage of last week’s train crash in Spain has revealed that the driver was talking on the phone at the time of the accident.
The state train operator Renfe had called him minutes beforehand to discuss the final stages of the route from Madrid to Ferrol in Galicia.
The court investigating the case said analysis of the conversation and background noise suggested he might have been consulting a map or another document.
Despite braking the train was going at over 150 kilometres an hour, almost twice the speed limit.
The driver, Francisco Garzon, has reportedly admitted in a closed-court hearing to taking the curve too fast, blaming it on a momentary lapse. He has been provisionally charged with negligent homicide.
The two black box recorders were located at the front and back of the train.
The investigating magistrate is also examining whether the train, the tracks or safety system designed to slow trains down may have been at fault. The section of track where the crash happened lacked an automatic protection system, present on most high-speed lines.
The crash near Santiago de Compostela killed 79 people. 66 remain in hospital, with 15 critically ill.
Spain train crash driver does not understand why he was speeding
Spain rail crash track ‘lacked high speed protection system’