FOLLOWING an incident in the Son Forteza railway tunnel in Palma last Tuesday when 200 passengers were trapped for 10 minutes as a result of a technical failure, the Transport ministry of the Balearic government is to change the emergency procedures operated by the Majorcan Train Service (SFM).
Denying reports that the passenger evacuation procedure had been hallmarked by lack of co-ordination, Transport director Antoni Verger said yesterday that SFM had followed established emergency procedures to the letter with the result that the passengers had to wait a considerable length of time before local and national police stepped in to oversee evacuation of the carriages.
Verger explained that a series of simultaneous occurrences had led to the seriousness of the incident in which passengers were left without light or air conditioning when power supplies became disconnected from the rolling stock. Naturally, he said, people's nerves were frayed when they realised they were trapped in the tunnel in the dark, but it would have been a grave mistake to let the passengers leave the carriages of their own free will - something much more serious could have occurred as a result of that. Furthermore, the passengers weren't completely in the dark because as the train had come to a standstill just outside the platform of Son Forteza, the emergency lights were operating. Verger said that what his department are doing however, is to introduce a much more flexible emergency procedure which will adapt more readily to the needs of individual incidents should they occur. This, he claimed, will lead to a much faster response time.