The investigation into the cause of the Lodi crash is still ongoing and there has been no official explanation for the tragedy yet. But prosecutors investigating the derailment say it is likely to have been caused by “human error”.
Points on the track were reportedly left in the wrong position, though the technicians who had carried out maintenence work on that stretch of track earlier in the day denied any wrongdoing, La Repubblica reports.
“We left it in the normal position, we can't explain ourselves,” the technicaions told investigators.
The Lodi accident hs highlighted problems on the especially busy stretch of line between Milan and Rome, where a train reportedly runs every 12 minutes in each direction, La Repubblica writes.
The short time between trains reportedly leaves the network vulnerable – the slightest problem or delay can cause knock-on delays right across the high-speed network.
And the shorter the intervals, the more stressed the network becomes and the more maintenance required. It also leaves less time for maintenance works to be carried out, La Repubblica writes.
Italian railworkers’ trade unions are demanding answers and say they've “lost faith” in existing safety procedures on the line.
“We have to reassess everything,” Italian Federation of Transport Workers’ union spokesman Giovanni Abimelech stated the day after the accident.
“If there is human error it means that things are not going well. One more step is needed for confirmation. Because this mustn’t happen again,” he said. “As of yesterday we lost a little faith in the fact that the trains are safe.”
Italy was the first European country to start building a high-speed rail line in the 1970s – meaning some of the infrastructure is now aging.
Today the oldest stretch of high-speed track ,between Rome and Florence, faces limitations. While Italy's high-speed trains usually travel at 300 kilometres per hour, they have to slow down to 250 km/h on this aging secton.
While it may not be as high-speed a sit once was, however, there is no evidence that Italy's high speed lines are especially dangerous for passengers.
According to the latest ANSF data available, from the period 2008-2014, there were an average of 13 train crashes and derailments in Italy per year. This was a decrease on the previous period (2004-2007) in which the number was 16.
The majority of serious accidents on Italy's railways were found to be those occurring at level crossings, and most of the victims were people on the tracks. Staff and passengers on board the trains made up less than ten percent of victims in railway accidents annually.
And while Denmark, the UK and the Netherlands lead Europe when it comes to railway safety, the figures show Italy is not a particularly dangerous place to board a train.
Comparison of Passenger and Workforce Fatality Rates Across Europe.Source: ORR, 2013.
In Italy as elsewhere in Europe, rail remains the safest form of overland transport, according to the European Commission.
As for other dangers, a more common risk passengers face is that of potential theft and pickpocketing – though this is not seen as a major issue either. High-speed trains in particular are thought to be safer in this regard.