NTSB: Engineer Sent, Received Texts Prior to Crash

LOS ANGELES – The National Transportation Safety Board confirmed that the engineer of a Metrolink commuter train that crashed head-on into a Union Pacific freight train sent and received text messages prior to the crash.

“NTSB investigators asked for records of the Metrolink engineer’s cell phone calls and text messages from the service provider,” the agency said in a statement. “The Board today received some of those records, which indicate that the engineer had sent and received text messages on the day of the accident, including some while he was on duty.”

The Metrolink commuter train and the Union Pacific freight train collided on on Sept. 12 near Chatsworth, Calif., killing 25 people and injuring more than 130 more.

“The Safety Board will correlate those records with other investigative information to determine as precisely as possible the exact times of those messages in relation to the engineer’s operation of his train,” the agency said. “The Board will provide further information on the progress of its investigation as it becomes available.”

Shortly after the wreck, Metrolink officials said the engineer was to blame, but the NTSB said it was still investigating. Some politicians have said that if the train had been equipped with Positive Train Control, the wreck might have been avoided.

The Federal Railroad Safety Improvement Act of 2007 (H.R. 2095), a bill the House of Representatives passed last year, would require trains to be equipped with Positive Train Control, a collision avoidance system.

According to some news reports, the engineer did not hit the brakes before the collision.

— Railfanning.org News Wire