Rail

First accident in 87 years closes L.A. funicular

Posted on March 1, 2001

One person died and seven were seriously injured when an historic cable car ascending Los Angeles’ Angels Flight railway plummeted 200 feet down its own track, crashing into a second cable car and killing an 83-year-old New Jersey man. The February accident was the first in more than 87 years, when, in a similar occurrence, the north car “Sinai” plunged into the south car “Olivet.” An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board discovered the drive mechanism was disassembled and there was chafing on the Sinai’s drum. The Angles Flight does not have independent overspeed-actuated brakes on the cars themselves, like many other funiculars, or redundant separate safety cables. Both are industry-standard systems that would have directly stopped the cars themselves. “This is a terrible accident that should not have happened,” said L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan, who visited the scene. “There should have been fail-safe devices. My heart goes out to the victims and the families of the victims.”

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