FairWarining Reports

Obama Administration Heeds Industry Call to Ease Rail Safety Rules

Aftermath of Chatsworth rail disaster, Sept. 12, 2008. (Kelly B. Huston)

The Obama administration announced today that it will scale back federal rail safety rules spurred by a Southern California train wreck in 2008 that killed 25 people and hurt 135 others.

The administration said it will slash by 10,000 miles the amount of railroad track that needs to be covered by systems that can override human error and automatically put the brakes on trains about to collide or derail.

Known as Positive Train Control, or PTC, the high-tech systems previously were projected to cover an estimated 70,000 miles of track used by trains carrying passengers or extremely hazardous materials such as chlorine.  The safeguards, as FairWarning has reported, are due to be installed by the end of 2015 under legislation passed by Congress in response to the deadly head-on train crash in Chatsworth, Calif.

The administration said the exemption would apply only to track that will not be used to carry passengers or the most dangerous cargo. The rollback – which had been expected and was one of a package of regulatory breaks for business that the Obama administration announced this morning — was spurred by a legal challenge by the Association of American Railroads, which represents freight haulers and Amtrak.

In a separate move to scale back PTC requirements, the railroads association and other industry lobbyists have backed calls by Congressional Republicans to postpone the PTC deadline until 2020 or beyond. A more modest change that would allow Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to approve deadline extensions on a case-by-case basis until the end of 2018 is currently before a Congressional conference committee.

Today’s action followed industry complaints that the Transportation Department was imposing “a staggering and unjustified burden” that went beyond the intent of Congress. The industry also argued that regulators wrongly tried to require railroads to put PTC on track that, by the end of 2015, no longer will be used to haul chlorine or other extremely hazardous materials.

To settle the litigation, the Transportation Department last August announced a plan to reduce the amount of track required to have PTC. Today’s announcement made this final.

LaHood, in a news release, portrayed the decision as “ensuring the safety of our nation’s railroads while reducing regulatory barriers,” and in keeping with President Obama’s executive order to cut unnecessary regulation.

Over 20 years, the Transportation Department said, the regulatory change will save railroads up to $775 million, reducing the overall cost of installing and operating PTC over that period to about $12.3 billion.

Reactions were mixed. U.S. Rep. Grace F. Napolitano, a California Democrat who has opposed calls in the House for an across-the-board delay in PTC, said the regulations “will help protect us from future accidents while granting a reasonable level of flexibility for the railroads and the Department of Transportation.”

But Ross Capon, president of the National Association of Railroad Passengers, expressed disappointment. He said the Transportation Department’s Federal Railroad Administration “is kind of gun shy.”

“Everything they do, they get accused of regulatory overreach, even if it’s clearly necessary to comply with existing laws,” Capon said.

He also blamed the action on “an intense effort by the industry to minimize the number of track miles where PTC will be installed and, obviously, thus to increase the number of track miles where … train collisions of any kind will continue to be possible.”

The Association of American Railroads released a statement from its president, Edward R. Hamberger, that the industry organization welcomed the Transportation Department announcement. A spokeswoman for the association, however, said her group still believes that the current Dec. 31, 2015 deadline for installation is unrealistic.

The National Transportation Safety Board, an advisory agency that for more than two decades has sought PTC installation, said it could not provide comment until officials reviewed the decision. But the agency previously has said such an action by the department could crimp regulators’ flexibility to require PTC on troublesome track not specifically designated by Congress for the safety technology.

Metrolink, operator of the commuter train that was involved in the head-on collision with a freight train in the deadly 2008 California accident, has become a leading advocate of PTC. It said today that its plan to cover its full 512-mile system with PTC by mid-2013, well ahead of the deadline, will not be affected by today’s news.

A Federal Railway Administration spokesman said that the 10,000 miles of PTC-exempted track are spread across all, or nearly all, of the states other than Alaska and Hawaii.

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Stuart Silverstein

About the author

Stuart Silverstein is assistant editor at FairWarning.

18 comments to “Obama Administration Heeds Industry Call to Ease Rail Safety Rules”

  1. rudolph caparros

    CHLORINE GAS TRANSPORTATION SAFETY
    First Responders ask federal administrations to consider adding secondary containment to rail tank cars used to transport chlorine gas, providing lifesaving safety to First Responders and the public they serve. See First Responders Comments at PETITION C KIT.

  2. Barbara Kloster

    Just a brief note for anyone who is interested in the meeting about Metrolink 111. It will be held on July 27, Friday, at 11:00a.m. The place is the Simi Valley Library at 2969 Tapo Canyon Road. If you want to speak, it has to be brief because the Field Rep. for Sen. Feinstein will only be there for an hour. You can give a written statement to be taken back to Sen. Feinstein. I am hoping this meeting stays as scheduled.

  3. Barbara Kloster

    You won’t believe it but the meeting with Sen. Feinsteins Field Rep. has been cancelled or perhaps postponed? There is a very large group of people (called JARS2) that were very disappointed. Again we have been let down. Maybe I am just too quick to judge because she could have been taken ill but I have lost my faith in human kindness so I am the first to believe the worst. I will let you all know if another meeting will ever be scheduled. I am hoping it will be in my lifetime or at least before elections. I haved lost trust with our Government. They help other countries, but they don’t look at their own. We are talking about 24 dead and 135 with life altering injuries. A small group in the scheme of things but an important group none the less. Think about who you trust when it comes time to vote in November. My vote won’t count just like our entire group doesn’t count.

  4. Barbara Kloster

    The meeting July 13, at 11:00a.m. will be held at the Simi Valley Library. For those of you that are interested and have questions, we welcome you, The address is 2969 Tapo Canyon Road. Our quest is fair compensation for the victims and to make sure nothing like Metrolink 111′s crash ever happens again.

  5. Alan Kandel

    Hi Barbara,

    Kalmbach Publishing Co. is the publisher of Trains magazine.

    Something else I found. In the same special installment in a different article, this time in “Wreck-less Behavior,” author Geoffrey H. Doughty wrote:

    “Deregulation changed the way railroads were allowed to do business. Railroads were always safety conscious to some extent, but the historic command and control mentality left little room for innovation. With deregulation came the realization that safety could be managed, engineered-in, and that reduced losses in property, liability and injuries left more money for investment. In short: Safety was good for business and railroads suddenly became more sophisticated in how they perceived it. A more innovative emphasis on safety directed connected to improved profitability.”

    (Source: Trains magazine special edition No. 8-2012, pp. 4-13).

    Positive train control (PTC) is also discussed.

    I very much hope the July meeting is extremely productive.

  6. Barbara Kloster

    Hi Alan,
    It makes me realize that I am involved in a fight worth fighting. I have never read a train magazine or heard of Dan Phillips until you quoted what he had written. He wrote what I have been saying for almost 4 years. Where can I find this magazine?
    We are having a meeting in July with Senator Feinsteins Aide and I would like to show her the article. Our group is going to keep rocking the boat until the Government starts listening. Thank you for all your help.

  7. Alan Kandel

    I am reading Trains magazine’s “Train Wrecks” special installment, and in “Railroading’s Super Sleuths,” article author, Don Phillips – a respected journalist who at one time wrote on transportation issues for the Washington Post newspaper – in the subsection “The Links In The Chain” points out in no uncertain terms, “The most complex accidents, and those with the potential to profoundly change transportation, all have one thing in common: They never have just one cause. In fact, it’s simply dumbfounding how seemingly random or unrelated circumstances will come together to cause a disaster.”

    In the article, Phillips quoted National Transportation Safety Board rail division director Steve Klejst, who remarked: “‘I don’t think I’ve ever found one [accident] that involved only one event.’”

    Also mention in the article is the collision at Chatsworth.

    Phillips wrote:

    “Now the industry is grappling with another round of sweeping changes, in the wake of a head-on collision between a commuter train and a local freight at Chatsworth, Calif. On Sept. 12, 2008, the engineer on Metrolink train 111 ran through a switch at Chatsworth and onto the main line, just as an oncoming Union Pacific freight popped out of a nearby tunnel. Twenty-five people were killed including the commuter train’s engineer, who was distracted from his duties while sending text messages on his cell phone.”

    (Source: Trains magazine special edition No. 8-2012, pp. 16-23).

  8. Barbara Kloster

    Thank you so much for your last comment. We are all left wondering about many different things. The lack of respect and accountability from Veolia, the uncaring attitude of the majority of Congress and the Senate and our biggest wonder is how the victims are going to live out the rest of their lives. I still think that if the engineer was texting and he was according to the phone records, it wouldn’t have mattered what color the light was. He never looked up!

  9. Alan Kandel

    Hi Barbara,

    Firstly, I know this is a repeat of an earlier comment, but I feel it important to again reiterate that as a freelance writer, I have done a considerable amount of research and writing on railroad signaling issues and positive train control. For a time I worked for a railroad in the signal department.

    Secondly, I understand well the seriousness of the September 12, 2008 Chatsworth collision. As it may relate, not too long ago near Montreal, Canada, there was an incident involving a VIA rail passenger train that derailed after running through a turnout (such is used to guide a train operating on one track off that track and onto a second track) at a reported speed of 67 mph. Perhaps you’re familiar with this incident. To continue, the turnout in question was designed for a maximum speed of 15 mph. The locomotive, carrying three experienced engineers, listed and landed on its side, and before coming to rest, struck a building abutting the tracks. All three locomotive crewmen perished. I ask myself: Were all three or any one of the locomotive crewmen at fault? If not, was this derailment the result of a false clear signal? Could it have been the engineers were not paying attention to corresponding wayside or overhead signals? With as many as three experienced engineers aboard, how could this derailment even have even happened? What I know for sure is at this point there is an ongoing investigation being conducted by a Canadian transportation authority looking into the cause of this derailment.

    As I mentioned in my May 19 comment regarding the Chatsworth collision, “On the day of the accident, the dispatcher had stacked the route for the westbound movement; on the day of the testing, the westbound route requests were not stacked.” And, why NOT do such the same way?! I will tell you this: If I were the on-duty dispatcher on duty the day of the accident (and assuming the same to be true the day of the testing), I would absolutely feel compelled to stack the route requests for the westbound movement, exactly the way the route requests were stacked the day of the accident. In fact, I would demand that nothing less be done.

    All things considered, I will forever wonder what the color of the westbound Control Point Topanga signal in question actually was, that is, from the time the Metrolink train in question was stopped at the Chatsworth station that September 12, 2008 day until the time just prior to this train passing the Control Point Topanga signal location or, in other words, just prior to that train entering single-track territory beyond the signal itself.

  10. Barbara Kloster

    Hi Alan,
    After reading your last email, I get the feeling that you are thinking along the same lines that I have been dwelling on for over 3 and1//2 years. Lies, subterfuge, discrepancies–excuse my spelling errors–and distortion and mistruths from all who were involved. Maybe I am wrong but I can’t give up until somebody steps up and pays their dues, The victims have been let down by Congress, Metrolink and especially Veolia. I will go to my grave forever thinking that way.
    Even after meeting with Mr. Fenton, who is probably gone by now, I was not satisfied and never will be.
    Everytime you read the report, I am sure you will find something else to question. If you read the letter that the President of Veolia wrote, you will see for yourself that they claim no wrong doing.

  11. Alan Kandel

    Barbara, you had earlier requested that I keep correspondence coming regarding whatever information I find out. As it relates, from my previous post I had quoted from the report as follows: “Train 111’s event recorder showed that at 4:20:07 p.m., the engineer moved the throttle from idle to position 2 and began releasing the train’s air brakes. At 4:20:13 p.m., the throttle was moved to position 3. The conductor said that after he closed the crew door, he returned to his desk to update his daily report. He said he had not heard the engineer call any signal since the ’green signals departing Northridge on our way to Chatsworth.’”

    However, according to the RAR-10/01 report on page 4, “Dispatching center recordings showed that, after departing Raymer,” [Control Point Raymer is located between the Van Nuys and Northridge stations] “the train 111 engineer called the next three intermediate signals as ‘green.’ The next signal the train encountered was the signal at CP Bernson (milepost 446.8), for which Metrolink’s operations center recorded the train 111 engineer calling a flashing yellow aspect (advance approach).”

    From what I have gleaned from information detailed in the report, CP Bernson is located between Northridge and Chatsworth (west of CP Raymer and east of CP Topanga).

    While in the earlier quote the train 111 conductor stated in a post-accident interview that “he had not heard the engineer call any signal since the ‘green signals departing Northridge on our way to Chatsworth,’” recorded radio transmissions, however, show otherwise, as it was stated “… the signal at CP Bernson (milepost 446.8), for which Metrolink’s operations center recorded the train 111 engineer calling a flashing yellow aspect (advance approach).” There is an obvious disparity with respect to the two seemingly contradictory statements in question.

    On page 4 of the report it is written, “The train passed the CP Bernson signal at 4:17:45 p.m. at a recorded speed of 68 mph. Under Metrolink rules, the conductor of a train must repeat back over the radio any restrictive signal (an indication other than clear) called out by the engineer. Train 111’s conductor was not recorded repeating back the flashing yellow signal the engineer called at CP Bernson. The conductor said he did not recall hearing the engineer call this signal.”

    Possible explanations for this?

    In the report under the section sub-headed “Testing of Communications System” (page 40), it is written: “On September 17, 2008, three communications tests were conducted to determine whether communication ‘dead spots’ existed along the route of Metrolink train 111 that would have interfered with radio transmissions between train crew members or that would have prevented radio transmissions from being recorded by the dispatch center. All the tests were conducted using handheld radios, including the radio that was in the possession of the train 111 conductor on the day of the accident.”

    “The handheld radio used by the conductor of Metrolink train 111 on the day of the accident was determined to be fully functional. Testing of the handset battery revealed that when fully charged, the battery lost capacity over a relatively short period of time, which reduced the radio’s transmit power. Testing showed that after three to five talk cycles, the audible low-battery warning activated at the end of each subsequent talk cycle.”

    Such information has me thinking that the integrity of radio communication at least between the train’s engineer and conductor may have been somewhat or completely compromised at this point in time.

    In your May 21, 2012 comment, meanwhile, you stated that “Conductor Bob never called out the signals at Chatsworth…”

    But, according to the report on pages 5 and 6, “In the first of his three interviews with NTSB investigators, the conductor stated that when he looked forward alongside the train, he could see a green (clear) signal at CP Topanga. (See figure 3.) In subsequent interviews, the conductor stated that he had radioed the engineer to ‘highball 111 on a green signal.’ Such an announcement was not recorded on any of the available recording devices. He stated that he did not hear a response from the engineer.”

  12. Barbara Kloster

    Hi Allen,
    I rode the Metrolink train this A.M. on my way to a meeting with Mr. Fenton. It must have been my lucky day because the conductor was Conductor Bob. What more can I say?

    Mr. Fenton was very informative and candid with us. He and all the other people on the Board of Directors, feel that the NTSB report was the absolute truth. He also said they took every minute detail into consideration. I watched the engineer on the Metrolink train today and he was watching everyone board and never looked down until the train was ready to depart.

    The train crashed at 4:22 on Sept. 12 and he never applied the brakes. Sanchez never did anything appropriately. He had already texted 90 times that day, he only invited minors to drive the train, he and Conductor Bob had a falling out and were not speaking to each other, Conductor Bob never called out the signals at Chatsworth and even tho he was a whislte blower he could have taken steps to stop the train, replacing the engineer. I noticed today that he called out signals at every station and was in constant communication with the engineer. I don’t really care if every person on the platform said the light was green. There was a chance of it being a false positive, tho that is extremely rare. What it comes down to is the lack of observance done by the engineer.

    We will probably never see any restitution from Metrolink and Mr. Fenton advised us to go after Congress and the Senate for the 74 million COLA that our Government refused to take into consideration. Congessman Gallegley practically begged for it and was turned down. We are still not letting Veolia off the hook, so you can see that we are not going to quit. We are trying to right a terrible wrong that was done to all the victims. The trauma and scars will never go away.

    I also believe that it was in the report that he broke the switch. We took Amtrak home and it was a much nicer ride.

  13. Alan Kandel

    Barbara, thank you for responding to my comment. I try to look at all sides of the discussion objectively. I re-read portions of the railroad accident report in question this morning. I can tell you from reading the RAR-10/01 report on page 38, that a sight-distance test of the westbound Control Point Topanga signal conducted during the investigation, was conducted on September 15, 2008. It was also mentioned that three tests of the communications system were conducted on September 17, 2008 (see page 40). But I did not find the date for when post-accidents tests of the signal system were made (please reference pages 39, 40, 50 and 51) mentioned anywhere. I just know that post-accident signal testing was performed. To me, knowing the date the signal testing was performed would be invaluable.

    Furthermore, on page 6 of the report in Figure 3, is a view from the locomotive cab positioned at the Chatsworth Station, of the section of track looking geographically north and includes in this view, the westbound CP Topanga signal in question identified in this view as being about 5,288 feet away. There is no telling what the color of this signal is or whether any one of the three signal lights (red, yellow or green) are illuminated. The tip of the arrow that is superimposed on the photo may quite possibly be covering the head of this signal shown in this photo. In my way of thinking, having the arrow head superimposed on the photo where it is, is not helpful at all.

    Where you commented “Moving the throttle back and forth makes one think that he was so busy texting and waiting for a reply from a minor, that he was totally distracted while the train was moving. Did you also read the part of the report that said Sanchez did not apply his brake at all and the other engineer applied his brakes four seconds before the crash.”

    On page 6 of the report it is written: “Train 111′s event recorder showed that at 4:20:07 p.m., the engineer moved the throttle from idle to position 2 and began releasing the train’s air brakes. At 4:20:13 p.m., the throttle was moved to position 3. The conductor said that after he closed the crew door, he returned to his desk to update his daily report. He said he had not heard the engineer call any signal since the ‘green signals departing Northridge on our way to Chatsworth.’ The data recorder indicated that at 4:20:17 p.m., the brakes were fully released and the train speed was gradually increasing. At 4:20:19 p.m., the throttle was increased to its maximum position of 8, and train speed was 4 mph.”

    Related to this, from page 50 of the report it is stated: “In post-accident interviews, the train 111 conductor and three other individuals (two rail fans and a security guard) who were on the Chatsworth station platform while the train served the station stated that they had seen the CP Topanga signal as train 111 pulled out of the station and that the signal was displaying a green aspect. Had this signal been displaying green, the engineer’s actions after the train departed the station would have been appropriate, at least until he was close enough to the CP Topanga switch to see that the switch was aligned against his train.”

    Based on what was stated in the report, this is an extremely important revelation, because it is indicative of the train engineer being aware of his actions in terms of his operating the Metrolink train in question appropriately, that is, after the train left the Chatsworth station and had the westbound Control Point Topanga signal aspect in question been green. Please understand I’m not implying the signal was green, but if it had been green, based on the engineer’s actions, this train would have been operated appropriately.

  14. Barbara Kloster

    It is always informative in reading your emails disputing mine. There are so many inconsistancies in reports and interviews that no one really knows who to believe. You know more about running a train than I do, but I know as much as you do when it comes to untruths, exaggerations and the question as to why the conductor, who was aware of the texting, did not call out the signal and allowed the train to go forward instead of calling his supervisor, requesting another engineer. Moving the throttle back and forth makes one think that he was so busy texting and waiting for a reply from a minor, that he was totallly distracted while the train was moving. Did you also read the part of the report that said Sanchez did not apply his brake at all and the other engineer applied his brakes four seconds before the crash.

    I am not a railroad buff. I would never think about hanging out on a platform just to watch the trains go by. I am going to take a Metrolink train tomorrow for the very first time from Moorpark to Union Station. Being a 75 year old woman, I hope my heart doesn’t stop while going through the tunnel from Simi to Chatsworth. I relive my sons injuries on a daily basis and will never have closure until the intities involved admit accountability.
    .
    Please keep emailing whatever information you find out and let me know if you feel that I am speaking untruths. In my mind, I am speaking only the truth I have read in documented reports. I follow all the links, speak with some very informed people and collect every piece of written material, that concerns Metrolink, Congress and Veolia.

    I respect what you write because you end every letter with a maybe. I am going to have to go back and read the NTSBs report because I don’t remember anything about Sanchez calling out anything as he left the Chatsworth station..

  15. Alan Kandel

    I’ve said it before and I will say it again, there were four eyewitnesses – one of the four being the conductor aboard the fateful Metrolink train #111 of that September 12, 2008 day – who claimed the Control Point Topanga signal in question’s aspect was green, or, in other words, a clear indication that it was permissible for the Metrolink train in question to proceed ahead. Meanwhile, William Keppen, a Maryland-based consultant, in a Los Angeles Times article stressed that while working as a locomotive engineer he witnessed false clear signals twice. Fortunately he had the presence of mind not move his train ahead because he was aware that another train was on the track ahead of him. So in light of this, my questions are: What caused the false clear signals to begin with? Were these anomalies reported and was an investigation conducted to determine the cause of these anomalies? Was it the same signal that failed twice at two different times or were there two different signals involved, each one failing only one time each? What remediation was performed to see to it that such false clear indications were not repeated? Were the corrective measures that were taken reported on? Were there other railroads using the same type of signal equipment and, if so, were these railroads notified? Many questions.

    Fully aware of the possibility that false clear signals are possible, what are the implications? If such a condition could have happened on one railroad, then is it not within the realm of possibility that just such a condition could happen on another railroad? For the record, I have read the accident report on the Chatsworth collision and as far as I’m concerned there are inconsistencies.

    Most notably, on page 39 of Railroad Accident Report RAR-10/01 “Collision of Metrolink Train 111 With Union Pacific Train LOF65-12 Chatsworth, California September 12, 2008″ from the National Transportation Safety Board, Notation 8175 and adopted January 21, 2010, it is written:

    “The Metrolink dispatch center aligned the route as it was at the time of the accident and investigators used rolling shunts to simulate the movements of Metrolink train 111 and the Leesdale Local. Signal personnel positioned at CP Davis, intermediate signal 4426, at the east- and westbound signals at CP Topanga, at intermediate signal 4451, and at CP Bernson confirmed that the signal system functioned as designed and intended.”

    Referencing Footnote 46 (see page 39), however, it is stated:

    “On the day of the accident, the dispatcher had stacked the route for the westbound movement; on the day of the testing, the westbound route requests were not stacked.”

    This seems highly contradictory. In one statement it was stated “The Metrolink dispatch center aligned the route as it was at the time of the accident…” and in another statement it was pointed out “On the day of the accident, the dispatcher had stacked the route for the westbound movement; on the day of the testing, the westbound route requests were not stacked.” At the very least, this apparent inconsistency – one would think – would require further explanation, elaboration and/or clarification.

    Secondly, when signal tests were conducted, instead of trains being used, “rolling shunts” were substituted to “simulate” the movement of trains.

    Referencing Footnote 47, it is stated:

    “Shunting the track refers to connecting the two rails electrically to simulate the presence of a train. With a rolling shunt, shunts are installed then repositioned in a pattern that simulates a train’s movement along a block of track.”

    Under most testing circumstances, I suppose this signal-testing method is an adequate way to test the said signal system. However, with the understanding that four eyewitnesses claimed the westbound Control Point Topanga signal in question was displaying a green aspect and not a red aspect, one would think conditions “exactly” as they were the day of the collision up to just seconds prior to the actual collision taking place would be replicated as a means to either substantiate or refute said eyewitness claims. It would seem that this would be the prudent course of action to follow.

    Then there is the matter of there being two railroad crossings between where the Metrolink train was stopped at the Chatsworth Station to discharge and/or pick up passengers on September 12, 2008 and where the westbound Control Point Topanga signal was located. The presumption is Metrolink engineer Robert Sanchez in moving the train in question forward from a stopped position would have looked out of the locomotive’s front windows to determine when initiation of the train’s horn and/or bell should be made for the Devonshire Road and Chatsworth Street crossings. That Sanchez according to the report had done this, it begs the question whether or not he also would have looked out of the locomotive windows to determine the westbound CP Topanga signal color.

    Furthermore, report information indicates that after leaving the Chatsworth Station, Metrolink train 111 reached a maximum train speed of 54 mph with speed reduced to about 43 mph at the time of impact.

    From page 7 of the report in reference to this: “Over the next 5 seconds, the engineer moved the throttle first to 5, then to 6, back to 5, then to 7, then back to 3 and, finally, to throttle position 4.”

    Why the throttle adjustments at all? The presumption is this was done in response to track conditions that were present at the time in that territory thus suggesting that Sanchez at least was somewhat aware of what he was doing in terms of him operating the Metrolink train in question. I find it difficult to accept the notion that Sanchez failed to notice the color of the Control Point Topanga signal especially considering he initiated horn and/or bell warnings for both the Devonshire Road and Chatsworth Street crossings in combination with making locomotive throttle adjustments. I truly believe that there were a combination of factors at work which resulted in this horrible tragedy happening.

  16. Barbara Kloster

    It was my understanding that all passenger railroads were Governmently owned. That is why the victims of Metrolink 111 fell under the cap of $200 million which was set by Congress in 1997. At the time of the crash, Congress had the opportunity to raise the cap but chose not to. After the judgements were made and all expenses paid, some of the victims received nothing or next to nothing. There were the Lawyers, Steering Committee. Insurance Companies, monies borrowed while waiting for a judgement, credit cards maxed out, lost homes, jobs and businesses and probably some I have forgotten to mention. The NTSB said the engineer was at fault and he was employed by Veolia Transportation, a Foreigh Conglomerate that slid under the cap and should have been indited for manslaughter. You are probably aware of all this but as a Mother of the second most severely injured victim that lived, I want everyone to be aware.

  17. Nathanael

    Amtrak will also complete PTC on the tracks it *owns* (Northeast Corridor, Keystone Corridor, and Kalamazoo-Porter in Michigan) by the end of 2012. (Most Amtrak trains run on track it doesn’t own, unfortunately.) NJ Transit (which owns almost all of its own track) will complete PTC by the deadline, SEPTA (which owns almost all of its own track) will complete PTC by the deadline. Just like Metrolink. All the passenger railroads (which are all public agencies) are doing their job.

    Meanwhile, practically all railroads in Europe (all public agencies) have implemented PTC, and so have the railroads in Russia (public agency again) and China (not that I’d use THEIR implementation).

    It’s the private US freight railroads who are being irresponsible and dragging their feet here. We know why: they’re private money-making operations and safety costs money.

    Railroad track needs to be owned by governments.

  18. Barbara Kloster

    Well, here we go again. Let’s cut corners and save money instead of lives. It is quite obvious that our wonderful Congress and the heads of Railroads, excluding Metrolink, are not concerned with safety. The victims of Metrolink 111 crash are no longer victims. They have been turned into statistics. I can tell you for a fact that the statistics are having a hard time with life because of the acts of an engineer, known for constant texting, caused those that survived, physical and mental injuries that will never go away. For those that didn’t survive, their families will live with their loss forever. If I do anything in my lifetime, it will be to keep the Metrolink 111 catastrophic incident alive in everyones mind. Not all the victims were on the train.

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