Taking The Lead On Railroad Passenger Safety

Taking The Lead On Railroad Passenger SafetyAs discussed in a previous newsletter, Aitken * Aitken * Cohn was appointed by the Orange County Superior Court to serve as Liaison Counsel on behalf of all plaintiffs who were involved in the April 23, 2002, head-on train collision in Placentia, California.

This collision was the worse collision in Metrolink’s 10 year history and the second collision between Metrolink and a Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway (BNSF) train in three years.

Given the extremely tragic nature of this collision, the large number of individuals injured, and the litigation posture of the defendants, the litigation has been hard fought, although much has been accomplished. Nevertheless, our office’s commitment to consumers’ rights is unyielding, and we find ourselves uniquely positioned to advocate for rail passenger safety with the support of the federal agency who investigated this collision.

Railroad transportation, though the source of great federal regulation, has come under increased scrutiny over the years by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), who is charged with investigating major transportation incidents (i.e. train collisions, airplane crashes, etc.). In essence, although technology exists to prevent head-on train collisions, such as that which occurred on April 23, 2002, the Railroad Companies have refused to adopt this technology to make railway travel safe. In fact, the NTSB has been urging Railroad Companies to adopt these safety systems for over twenty years. Nevertheless, the Railroads continue to resist implementing safer rail travel, citing the enormous cost of implementing such systems, putting millions of passengers at risk of injury or death every day. As a result of this failure, the NTSB found in their investigative report for the April 23, 2002, Placentia train collision that the absence of these safety systems was a factor contributing to the cause of this tragic collision.

Aitken * Aitken * Cohn is proud to lead the litigation against Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway in the Burlington Northern Collision Cases in Orange County and will continue to fight for safer travel for railroad passengers and urge railroads to adopt additional safety measures, including those recommended by the NTSB.

The NTSB’s Investigation Report for the April 23, 2002, train collision can be found on the NTSB’s website at www.ntsb.gov.