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Sloppy maintenance, not deliberate acts, caused deadly French railway crash, prosecutor says

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PARIS — Sloppy maintenance of a notoriously dangerous stretch of railroad caused a train to jump the tracks in suburban Paris last year, killing seven people and injuring nearly 200, a French prosecutor said Monday.

The packed train, carrying around 385 passengers, derailed, skidded and slammed into a railroad station in Bretigny-sur-Orge on July 12, 2013. Prosecutor Eric Lallement said the stretch of railroad where the train jumped the tracks was a "known danger zone" that was not maintained properly.

PHOTO: FILE - This Friday, July 12, 2013 file photo shows the scene where a train derailed, at the station, in  Bretigny sur Orge, south of Paris. France’s national railway is denying that neglected maintenance on the train tracks led to a fatal derailment last year that left seven people dead. SNCF and RFF - the agency that handles the actual rail infrastructure - said Monday, June 7, 2014 that although they took responsibility for the crash, there was no systematic maintenance failure as alleged in the court-ordered report. The French newspapers Le Figaro and Le Monde, which obtained copies of the report ahead of the railway, said the experts found 200 anomalies along the railway for Bretigny-sur-Orge, which they said was “a known danger zone.” The packed train, carrying around 385 passengers, was traveling below the speed limit at 137 kph (85 mph) when it derailed, skidded and slammed into the station platform July 12, 2013.(AP Photo/Michel Euler)
FILE - This Friday, July 12, 2013 file photo shows the scene where a train derailed, at the station, in Bretigny sur Orge, south of Paris. France’s national railway is denying that neglected maintenance on the train tracks led to a fatal derailment last year that left seven people dead. SNCF and RFF - the agency that handles the actual rail infrastructure - said Monday, June 7, 2014 that although they took responsibility for the crash, there was no systematic maintenance failure as alleged in the court-ordered report. The French newspapers Le Figaro and Le Monde, which obtained copies of the report ahead of the railway, said the experts found 200 anomalies along the railway for Bretigny-sur-Orge, which they said was “a known danger zone.” The packed train, carrying around 385 passengers, was traveling below the speed limit at 137 kph (85 mph) when it derailed, skidded and slammed into the station platform July 12, 2013.(AP Photo/Michel Euler)

National railway SNCF and RFF — the agency that handles the rail infrastructure — said that although they had accepted responsibility for the crash, there was no systematic maintenance failure, as alleged in a court-ordered report.

Lallement said further investigation would determine how to divide blame for the ill-maintained stretch of rail, where some 100 maintenance problems were discovered after the crash.

"The high number of problems and the way they were evenly distributed ... bear witness to an unsuitable maintenance and not a deliberate action," he said.

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PHOTO: FILE - This Friday, July 12, 2013 file photo shows the scene where a train derailed, at the station, in  Bretigny sur Orge, south of Paris. France’s national railway is denying that neglected maintenance on the train tracks led to a fatal derailment last year that left seven people dead. SNCF and RFF - the agency that handles the actual rail infrastructure - said Monday, June 7, 2014 that although they took responsibility for the crash, there was no systematic maintenance failure as alleged in the court-ordered report. The French newspapers Le Figaro and Le Monde, which obtained copies of the report ahead of the railway, said the experts found 200 anomalies along the railway for Bretigny-sur-Orge, which they said was “a known danger zone.” The packed train, carrying around 385 passengers, was traveling below the speed limit at 137 kph (85 mph) when it derailed, skidded and slammed into the station platform July 12, 2013.(AP Photo/Michel Euler)
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