Metrolink Safety Advancements May Have Prevented Worse Outcome – CBS Local

Posted: Wednesday, February 25, 2015

OXNARD (CBSLA.com) — Safety improvements by Metrolink may have prevented Tuesday’s derailment in Oxnard from being a lot worse.

In 2008, the deadliest accident in Metrolink history happened in Chatsworth. It was then that 25 people were killed when two trains collided head-on.

Federal officials fully investigated Metrolink, and the agency itself began a review of safety procedures, which led to many of the improvements that are in place today.

“There are a lot of very advanced technologies that help with train safety. Most of them deal with either the switching, which puts trains on different tracks, oncoming locomotives, speed around certain curves and that’s really the technology we’ve been working on called positive train control,” said Shawn Nelson of Metrolink.

As CBS2’s Stephanie Simmons reports, positive train control is a GPS-based technology that can automatically stop or slow a train in emergency situations.

“Unfortunately, the low-tech reality of people taking cars or trucks across train tracks aren’t part of that real sophisticated technology,” Nelson said.

As for the cars themselves, newer, safer cars were introduced in 2010. The cars were also designed with technology, known as collision energy management, which redistributes the energy of an impact.

“Systems that are engineered to dissipate the energy going into the passenger compartment and affecting the engineer,” he said.

In the Oxnard incident, according to Nelson, the engineer appears to have followed proper safety precautions leading up to the crash and safety advancements on the trains prevented a bigger tragedy.

“We’re going to get the postmortem but it appears that a lot of these safety mechanisms at least helped the situation,” he said.

Tuesday’s accident occurred just before 6 a.m., when the commuter train bound for Los Angeles crashed into a truck left on the tracks, authorities said. Four passenger cars and a locomotive ultimately derailed in Oxnard. The impact of the crash injured 28 people, including four critically.

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