Spain has mourned the 79 people killed in its worst train disaster in decades with a solemn memorial service attended by hundreds in the pilgrimage city of Santiago de Compostela.

The heir to the Spanish crown Prince Felipe, his wife Princess Letizia and his eldest sister Elena, walked solemnly down the aisle of the city's towering cathedral in Monday’s ceremony.

 The crash was one of the worst rail
disasters in Spanish history [AFP]

They were followed by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, government ministers and other officials and joined members of the victims' families and residents of the northwestern city.

"We are gathered here to ask for happiness in eternity for the dead," a priest told the congregation, before a choir sang the first hymns of the service.

Outside locals and visitors including Roman Catholic pilgrims to the city stood to pay their respects outside the cathedral, at whose gates were placed  flowers, candles and handwritten messages of condolence.

A crowd watched the service on a giant outdoor screen on another nearby square as the archbishop of Santiago, Julian Barrio, began the service.

Most of the dead were buried over the weekend in various parts of Spain.

Regional health authorities said 69 people caught in Wednesday’s crash were still in hospital on Monday, 22 of them in serious condition.

A judge has bailed the driver of the train, Francisco Jose Garzon Amo, on charges of reckless homicide.

Source: Agencies