Could Fatal Metrolink Crash Have Been Avoided?

LOS ANGELES — A fatal Metrolink train crash was preventable, according to Rep. James L. Oberstar, D-Minn., Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

In the wreck, a Metrolink commuter train collided with a Union Pacific freight train in Los Angeles, killing 25 people and injuring 135 others.

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

“Our legislation requiring PTC would substantially reduce the number of serious train accidents, because it provides safety redundancy to protect against human performance failures,” Oberstar said.

The system uses global positioning satellites, train systems and signals, and computer programs, among other means, to prevent human errors in train operations.

With a PTC system, a train would stop automatically when signals are ignored by the engineer.

This year, approved legislation mandates PTC by 2015.

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