Fatal Train Crash Sparks Railroad Safety Reform

The Sept. 12, 2008 Los Angeles Metrolink train crash has sparked attention among lawmakers, encouraging them to enforce new requirements that will make railroad travel safe.

The Metrolink train crash, which claimed the lives of 25 and left 138 injured, is the deadliest railroad accident in the United States in 15 years.

Spurred by the number of fatalities and serious injuries, House and Senate negotiators reached a deal Sept. 23 on a major railroad safety reform bill. New technology designed to prevent future train crashes and increase the overall safety of railroad travel is required under the new bill. The bill will also put limits as to how many hours train engineers can work.

Bill Provisions

The safety reform bill requires that every train transporting passengers of hazardous material must be equipped with train control technology by 2015. The control technology is capable of engaging the breaks if a train veers off its scheduled path or fails to stop at a red light signal.

Such technology has been at the forefront of debates between Congress and the railroad companies for years now. Even though railroad companies have been urged to adopt such technology to make rail travel safer, they have resisted. Currently, the train control technology can only be found on portions of the Northeast Corridor.

In response to the bill, Federal Railroad Administrator, Joseph H. Boardman stated, “Positive train control would have prevented this collision.” However, when pressed to give a timeline, he dodged further response.

Legislation will Replace Expired Railroad Law

If passed, the legislation will put in force the first updates to railroad safety since the 1994 Federal Railroad Safety Authorization Act, which expired in 1998.

California Senators are hopefully that the bill will pass, even though they expressed disappointment in the negotiated timeline.

“No question it’s good that there’s a deal, and I hope that it can be passed before this Congress comes to a close. Yet, I’m very disappointed about the deadline,” said Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

(Source: Associated Press)

Contact Aitken * Aitken * Cohn

For more information about the new legislation or to speak to an experienced personal injury attorney, contact Aitken * Aitken * Cohn today to schedule a complimentary consultation.

As lead counsel in the 2002 Placentia Metrolink Accident, Aitken * Aitken * Cohn has the knowledge and experience to answer any questions you have regarding your legal rights. If you or someone you love has been injured in the Metrolink 111 crash, please contact us today. Our personal injury attorneys are standing by to assist.