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

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.

The verdict can be appealed.

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