Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Union Pacific — two large freight railroads that share tracks with Metrolink — have pledged to install advanced track safety measures by the year 2012, the Los Angeles Times reported on October 9, 2008. This decision comes about a month after the catastrophic Chatsworth Metrolink commuter train crash that left 25 people dead and about 135 injured.
The two railroads say they will be installing positive train control systems on their tracks in the next three years, although a complete rollout may take longer. Positive train control systems basically combine digital communications with global positioning system (GPS) technology to monitor train locations and speeds. If engineers miss signals or cannot stop the train in time, an electronic device in the train’s cab will automatically apply the brakes.
While the freight railroads have taken a step in the right direction, Metrolink hesitates to adopt this recent technology. Officials say it is not dependable despite statements from federal officials that positive train control systems have proven effective in different parts of the country. Had Metrolink already had these safety systems in place, the deadly Chatsworth collision could have been prevented.
Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) also found that the Metrolink train’s engineer, Robert Sanchez, had been texting while on duty. In fact, investigators learned that Sanchez had sent out a text message 22 seconds before the crash. Metrolink is already facing several lawsuits filed by injured victims of the families of commuters who died in the crash. My guess is that they will very likely end up settling with the victims and families. But they need to start acting NOW on installing safety measures that would prevent such tragedies in the future.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured as a result of a train accident or the Metrolink crash in California, please contact Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys immediately to discuss your case.