Alstom executive investigated over Italian train crash

ROME (Reuters) – Italian prosecutors have placed a senior executive of engineering group Alstom under investigation after a deadly high-speed train derailment in the northern Italian region of Lodi last week.

Alstom confirmed that Michele Viale, head of its Italian unit Alstom Ferroviaria, was among individuals being investigated over the incident on Feb. 6 that killed two train drivers and injured scores of passengers.

On Thursday the head of rail transport security agency ANSF told an Italian Senate hearing that prosecutors were looking into the possibility that faulty cabling in switching equipment supplied by Alstom may have been a factor in the accident.

ANSF has alerted other rail network operators to a possible malfunction in switching equipment supplied by the group.

Alstom said it is cooperating with investigators. “We are mobilizing all our resources to provide the support that has been requested,” it said in a statement.

Viale was not reachable for immediate comment.

The accident happened in the early hours of Feb. 6 when a high-speed Frecciarossa train skipped the tracks while traveling at an estimated 280 kph (175 mph). The front engine jumping onto an adjacent track and smashing into idle freight wagons before coming to a stop several hundred meters away.

Officials said immediately following the accident that maintenance had been carried out on the line overnight and investigators were looking to see if this work might have caused the disaster.

(Reporting by Stefano Bernabei; Writing by James Mackenzie; Editing by David Goodman)