PARIS, July 6 A train derailment that killed
seven people and injured around 30 in central France last year
was due to a maintenance problem that revealed an 'unprecedented
state of decay', according to an experts' report to be made
public on Monday, Le Figaro newspaper reported on its website.
If confirmed, the report will deal a new blow to French rail
operator SNCF, already hit this year by strikes and a botched
order of rolling stock. It declined to comment on the Le Figaro
SNCF said last year the derailment had been caused by a
steel plate that should have remained bolted to the track but
broke off and blocked the path of the train.
Le Figaro said the investigators would say that accident was
not caused by a "malicious act", but by a process lasting
several months in which the plate had gradually worked itself
Experts had found more than 200 irregularities, of varying
degrees of seriousness, in the section of track in question, it
"Most of the anomalies were known by the SNCF or its agents
and yet they did not remedy them in an adequate fashion," Le
Figaro quoted the expert report as saying.
It said the report, which described "an unprecedented state
of decay", was not subject to appeal.
The Paris-Limoges train, on a regional service that travels
more slowly than France's TGV express trains, derailed at the
station of Bretigny-sur-Orge, 26 km (16 miles) south of the
capital in July last year. It was carrying 385 people.
This year, the SNCF has faced numerous strikes in protest
against a proposed reform of the railway structure, and was
embarrassed by a costly mistaken order of hundreds of trains too
wide to enter stations.
(Reporting by Astrid Wendlandt; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)