NTSB to Discuss Metrolink Crash

WASHINGTON — The National Transportation Safety Board will hold a public hearing on the 2008 collision in Chatsworth, Calif., involving a Metrolink commuter train and a Union Pacific freight train.

The two-day hearing will begin on March 3 at the NTSB’s Board Room and Conference Center, 429 L’Enfant Plaza, S.W., Washington.

At 4:22 p.m. on Sept. 12, 2008, Metrolink commuter train 111 and a Union Pacific freight train collided.  As a result of this head-on accident, there were 25 fatalities and numerous injuries.

On the day of the accident, the Metrolink engineer, who was responsible for the operation of the train, received and sent several text messages on his cell phone while he was on duty.

“During the hearing, we will receive testimony, in an open forum, on safety issues related to the safe operations of trains, including the use of cell phones and the calling of train signals,” said Kitty Higgins, chairman of the Hearing.  “Witnesses will provide vital information on oversight of and compliance with the operating rules that were in place on the day of the accident.”

Topics to be discussed at the two-day hearing include: train signals, operating rules (including calling signals and the use of cell phones), and positive train control.

Witnesses to the hearing will be representatives from: Metrolink, Union Pacific, the Federal Railroad Administration, California Public Utilities Commission, Connex Railroad (the company that employed the engineer and that contracted with Metrolink), United Transportation Union, Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen and Wabtec Corp.