Rail

Safety measures increased after crash

Posted on December 1, 2008 by Thi Dao, Assistant Editor

Following the Sept. 12 Metro­link rail accident in Chatsworth, Calif., the operation has taken steps to bolster its safety measures, including adding a crewmember in the lead cab and making equipment and track improvements. The accident, where a passenger train collided head-on with a Union Pacific 17-car freight train, killed 25 people and left 135 injured.

National Transportation Safety Board investigations show that the engineer had been sending and receiving text messages during his shift, the last one sent less than a second before the train crashed. This led Metrolink and state and federal government agencies to take actions that would ensure fewer distractions for rail employees.

Immediately after the crash, California authorities adopted an emergency order to restrict personal use of communication devices by rail employees in service. The Federal Railroad Administration’s Emergency Order No. 26 made this a national law, effective Oct. 27, 2008.

Metrolink is also using an additional crewmember in the front cab as a safety measure as well as a way to enforce the cell phone ban, emphasizing the areas not equipped with automatic train stop (ATS) technology and single-track lines.

The rail company has also made efforts to add a second engineer to their lines. The engineers come from their extra board — a small group called upon to rotate in whenever a front line engineer is unavailable.

“We have maximized the use of existing personnel and are able to cover roughly 50 percent of our current train service using that strategy. The rest is going to have to be covered through hiring,” said Francisco Oaxaca, Metrolink spokesman.

Further crew supervision includes inward-facing video cameras that will be installed in 15 new locomotives by October of next year. Metrolink is also seeking funding for installation of cameras on all new cab cars.

A Commuter Rail Safety Peer Review Panel has been authorized to review and make recommendations on system operations. The 60-day review is expected to conclude by December of this year. The panel will evaluate operating environment, policies, procedures, contracts and management.

Equipment and track improvements will also be made. In October, President Bush signed the Rail Safety Improvement Act, mandating the installation of positive train control (PTC), which includes GPS tracking and automatic stop, centralized dispatch, upgrading signals and communications, and digitally mapping the railroad. The Rail Safety Act will take effect by Oct. 31, 2015.

Metrolink plans to get a head start on PTC installation. “We have a commitment, right now, from the freight railroads to install the portion that sits outside the train along the tracks on the lines that we operate here in Southern California by 2012,” said Oaxaca. The rest of the PTC system, including the parts inside the train and upgrading the dispatch center, will be installed afterward.

Until then, Metrolink hopes to extend the older ATS systems to their tracks. “Our plan right now is to identify particular locations along our railroad where we feel that the ATS could be an additional safety enhancement,” Oaxacasaid. This technology would be used until it is replaced by PTC.

Although some initiatives have already been paid for, many others still require funding, which Metrolink hopes will be partly attained through voters. “There are a number of significant issues on the November ballot in California. Prop 1B and the High-Speed Rail Bond could provide significant funding for rail safety initiatives like ATS and, more importantly, the PTC efforts,” said Oaxaca. “We’re working on several fronts, both on the federal and state level, to identify more funding in other legislation that may be planned.”

View comments or post a comment on this story. (0 Comments)

More News

Alstom, Bombardier deliver 100th MI09 French trainset

Every MI09 can transport up to 2,600 passengers at maximum speeds of approximately 75 miles per hour. Each train is made up of five cars, each equipped with three large doors on either side to facilitate passenger exchange in the stations.

How transportation played key role in transformation of Milan

The Brussels based UITP’s World Congress is the major global gathering of the world’s public transport industry to network, review progress and innovation, understand trends from suppliers as well as focus on the challenges that public transport faces in delivering a viable, sustainable future for the world.

Calif.'s SMART secures $11 million grant to buy 3 more railcars

The three additional cars will boost SMART’s seating capacity by 35%, officials said. Because of the escalating costs for railcars, the grant also was estimated to have saved taxpayers about $11 million, according to state officials,

Parsons Brinckerhoff under contract to deliver Calif. high-speed rail

Will begin work on a seven-year, $700 million rail delivery partner contract awarded by the California High-Speed Rail Authority earlier this month.

Alstom to supply 13 Coradia Lint regional trains to Danish network

The Coradia Lint 41 is an environmentally-friendly low-consumption Diesel Multiple Unit that can reach a maximum operating speed of up to 87 mph.

See More News

Post a Comment

Post Comment

Comments (0)

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment

TruckingInfo.com

THE COMMERCIAL TRUCK INDUSTRY’S MOST IN-DEPTH INFORMATION SOURCE

Work Truck Magazine

The resource for managers of class 1-7 truck Fleets

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

LCT Magazine

Global Resource For Limousine and Bus Transportation

Please sign in or register to .    Close