Santiago de Compostela derailment

Photo: Contando Estrelas/Wikimedia Commons

SPAIN: The government is currently drafting legislation to establish a single transport accident investigation body, combining the responsibilities of the three commissions currently in charge of investigating maritime, civil aviation and railway accidents.

The Comisión de Investigación de Accidentes Ferroviarios was set up in 2007 as a technical body to investigate serious rail accidents in Spain, with a view to drawing lessons from them to improve safety. It was established through a decree that transcribed European Directive 2004/49/EC on the Safety of the Community’s Railways.

CIAF is fully independent from the rail regulator, the authority in charge of rail safety, railway operators and other bodies whose interests might conflict with its purpose. The commission consists of a Chairman and five members who are nominated the Minister of Public Works from noted civil, telecoms and rail engineering, rail safety and rail operation professionals. Following confirmation by a parliamentary committee, they serve for a non-renewable term of six years.

However, the requirements set by the EU have been altered over time by a series of statutory instruments aimed at improving the operation of CIAF and incorporating lessons learned by its sister bodies in charge of investigating maritime and civil aviation accidents.

The idea of establishing a single investigation body was first mooted in the Spanish Senate by Ramón Morales, transport spokesman for the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party. Combining the three commissions is expected to facilitate the sharing of experience and work methodologies; their respective staff would all transfer to the new body.