During test runs, a number of security features are disabled, in particular parts of the TVM system which would have prevented any overspeed during normal service. This leaves the train speed under the sole responsibility of the driver.
The accident which killed 11 people occurred on the last run of the scheduled trials on the new high-speed line between Paris and Strasbourg. As more details on the accident surface, it becomes evident that this last run was performed in a festive spirit, with relatives (including children) of the employees on board, and 7 people present in the train cab instead of 3. This casts a shadow on the security procedures of the French national railway company: it appears that the high-speed train technology is considered so safe that the risks inherent to trials runs were somehow neglected. The two drivers and the traction inspector have been suspended by SNCF pending possible criminal charges. Other changes in the management structure will probably follow.