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Metrolink to use diesels at both ends of trains for added safety

This blog has followed the consequences of the deadly truck-train collision in Oxnard in February 2015. The latest installment involves a decision by Metrolink to run diesel locomotives at both ends of commuter trains to improve safety.

In the Oxnard train-truck crash, the car that was leading the train, called a “cab car” because it contains both passenger seats and a small engineer cab, collided with a heavy duty pick-up truck and derailed. The engineer was killed and twenty-eight passengers were injured.

Commuter trains in Los Angeles and in other large metropolitan areas use a standard diesel locomotive to pull the train along its route, but because commuter trains cannot turn around at the end of their run, the diesel locomotive must push the train on its return. In such cases, the cab car occupies the head end of the train. These cab cars are intended to have various safety features that will absorb the impact of a collision, whether it involves two trains or a train and a motor vehicle. Safety experts investigating the Oxnard collision have raised concerns about whether these safety features functioned as intended.

As a temporary safety measure, the Metrolink board has agreed to lease 40 diesel engines, which are much heavier than cab cars, from the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Co. Metrolink plans to place diesel engines at both ends of commuter trains until the safety issues regarding the cab cars have been resolved.

Cars, trucks, freight and commuter trains often operate in close proximity in the six-county Southern California region served by Metrolink. The leasing of the additional locomotives by Metrolink is intended to increase the safety of train passengers, but operators of trucks and automobiles still face the possibility of death or serious injury should they collide with a moving train. Anyone who has been injured or lost a loved one in such a collision may benefit from a consultation with an attorney who specializes in vehicle accident cases. Such a consultation can provide a useful evaluation of the circumstances and the likelihood of recovering damages from the parties at fault.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “Deadly Oxnard crash prompts Metrolink to put locomotives at both ends of trains,” Dan Weikel, Oct. 9, 2015

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