Safety Measures Existed, but not up to Metrolink's Standards
NTSB investigators use stand-in engines to conduct a test to determine when the engineers of two trains were able to see each other in the moments before a head-on crash (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
After the September 12 Metrolink/Union Pacific train crash that claimed 25 lives, Metrolink repeatedly said that positive train controls, which automatically stop trains when two are on the same track heading at each other, "have not yet been perfected to the point where they can be installed throughout Southern California's rail system, where 66% of the tracks are shared by freight and passenger trains," according to the LA Times.
Positive train controls have been in use for 90 years and the National Transportation Safety Board recommended it 30 years ago. In fact, in 1990 the agency added it to their list of ten most wanted safety improvements. In a March train crash between a commuter train and a runaway freight train in Massachusetts, the automated system stopped the commuter train before the freight hit it. 150 people suffered minor injuries and officials say if the technology was not installed, the crash would have been much worse.
Other than one section in Orange County that has the technology because the previous railroad owners installed it, Metrolink told the Times on Friday they were not prepared to say anything more on safety measures.