Friday, September 12, 2008

A Sad Day in LA

Just saw the news about the LA Metrolink crash. Very sad and when I saw it I'll admit I was angry. I saw the pictures on the cover of the NY Times and looked at the track, it was single track. Single track that could have been double track. Should have been double, and there have been NIMBY's that opposed it. But this was someone's mistake on one of the trains. I just wish it didn't happen. Anyone know what's up with the increase in crashes lately?

8 comments:

Justin said...

I am reading that those NIMBY fools are saying those tracks should not be there, and it was revealed, that the tracks were there BEFORE his house. What an insensitive cad.

Gordon Werner said...

Double-tracking main lines is very expensive ... I'd think that the real reason was that the Union Pacific didn't want to pay for it.

arcady said...

First of all, this isn't about NIMBYs. Blaming it on them even in the slightest is petty and wrong. Second of all, it's not about Union Pacific either. That particular track belongs to LA County, and is operated by Metrolink on the county's behalf. And that particular point on the track, as you might have seen from the photos, is immediately before a tunnel portal, so double-tracking there wouldn't be possible without widening the tunnel.

I strongly suspect that the real problem in this case was that the driver of the Metrolink train went through a red signal, and a few hundred feet later ran into the freight head on as they were coming round the bend. This isn't the first head-on collision between a Metrolink train and freight: a similar crash happened in Placentia in 2002. There exist systems to stop trains from going through red signals, and they're widely deployed in the rest of the world, and even in the Northeast. In fact, between Fullerton and San Diego, Metrolink uses the ATS system, which goes "beep" and requires the driver to push a button when the train goes through a restrictive signal, and stops it if he doesn't, and even that might have helped here. But they haven't installed ATS anywhere on their system where it hasn't been present since the Santa Fe days. And it's on the lack of these protective system that the blame can be placed.

Pantograph Trolleypole said...

This is going to happen from time to time. You can't make things 100% safe without just making the trains go 5 mph everywhere. It's the risk we run by living and taking motorized transport of any kind.

I don't think its fair to blame NIMBYs, but I do think it's dumb when they say that by keeping it single track there would be less crashes rather than more.

But it's rather like Arcady said, perhaps a reluctance in investment that might have caused this. We have a love these days of doing things on the cheap. But I highly suspect like I said in the post that this was an operator error on one of the trains which led it to be where it wasn't supposed to be.

Robert said...

LA Times reports that Metrolink admits its engineer violated signal.

Transit in southern California has so many marks against it. When speaking with skeptics about the viability of transit, Metrolink is an example I typically cite. It is rapid, comfortable transit that has reached into the very belly of the car culture.

Anyone have any idea how Metrolink can recover its reputation?

Anonymous said...

Adding an other track would help along with electrification. Though if some one is going to go through a red light then they should be fired.

For that matter how many people go through red lights/stop signs while driving cars and trucks and are not getting fined.

Pantograph Trolleypole said...

Anon, i have a feeling that the operator paid a greater price than being fired...

JP said...

Rumor has it the operator was sending text messages around the time of the accident. Just a disaster.