UP Brakeman Sues Metrolink Over Crash

LOS ANGELES — The brakeman on the Union Pacific train involved in a deadly collision with a California commuter train is suing Metrolink, saying they failed to properly screen, train and supervise the engineer who is being blamed for the wreck.

On Sept. 12, a Metrolink commuter train and a Union Pacific freight train collided near Chatsworth, Calif., killing 25 people and injuring more than 130 more. As part of its investigation, the National Transportation Safety Board said the Metrolink engineer sent and received text messages prior to the crash.

“Basically the guy was asleep at the switch and not paying attention to what was going on around him,” The Associated Press quoted the brakeman’s attorney as saying about the Metrolink engineer, who was killed in the wreck.

In addition to Metrolink, the lawsuit names Veolia Transportation and its subsidiary, Connex Railroad. Veolia Transportation operated the train for Metrolink.

In the wake of the crash, the California Public Utilities Commission voted to temporarily prohibit the personal use of “commercial mobile radio services and devices” by on-duty railroad engineers, brakemen, conductors or rail transit vehicle operators.

Some officials have said Positive Train Control, which would force a train to stop automatically when signals are ignored by the engineer, might have prevented the fatal crash. The House of Representatives last year passed the Federal Railroad Safety Improvement Act of 2007 (H.R. 2095).

The bill would require trains to be equipped with Positive Train Control (PTC), a collision avoidance system. PTC has been at the top of the National Transportation Safety Board’s priority list for nearly two decades.

— Railfanning.org News Wire