The National Corridors Initiative, Inc.
Destination:Freedom

A Weekly North American Transportation Update

For transportation advocates and professionals, journalists,
and elected or appointed officials at all levels of government

Publisher: James P. RePass      E-Zine Editor: Molly McKay
Foreign Editor: David Beale      Webmaster: Dennis Kirkpatrick

Contribute To The Cause
Help NCI Help You!

September 13, 2008
Vol. 9 No. 38 - EXTRA

Copyright © 2008
NCI Inc., All Rights Reserved

Home Page: www.nationalcorridors.org

This E-Zine is best viewed at
1024 X 768 screen resolution

NEWS OF THE WEEK... Extra Edition...


 

UP, Metrolink Commuter Rail Trains In Crash

 

Many Deaths, Injuries, Some Still Missing as Freight
and Commuter Train Collide Near Los Angeles

 

By DF Staff and from Internet Sources

 

CHATSWORTH, CA --- A Union Pacific freight train and a Metrolink commuter rail train packed with people, each going 40 miles per hour, collided head-on Friday afternoon just outside the Chatsworth rail station near Stoney Creek Park.

The wreck is likely to become the worst passenger railroad accident in America at least since the 1999 Amtrak crash, caused by a steel-laden truck that had moved across the tracks directly in the path of the oncoming train at Bourbonnais, IL, killing 11 innocent people on the City of New Orleans, and an earlier 2005 Metrolink tragedy when a deranged man parked his car on the tracks in what he said was a suicide attempt, and derailed a commuter rail into the path of an oncoming freight train.


Photo: LA Times Blogs

Rescue teams work to free trapped people in the wreckage of the collision that occured at a bend in the railroad.

The September 12 accident was made far worse because the commuter rail train’s engine was forced backward into the lead passenger car, nearly destroying it and the locomotive as well. That is unusual for American train wrecks, where high buffing standards (600,000 psi) are required for passenger rail cars. Normally, in a crash, most of the cars that derail will form a zig zag pattern on the ground.

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board and other agencies swarmed the scene Saturday as the Board of the Metrolink met to assess what had happened.

The section of track involved is a single track, with sidings spaced periodically to allow trains to meet and pass each other.


Image: Google Maps (maps.google.com)

Location of the collision

Photo: Hannoverische Allgemeine Zeitung (Germany) 

As we post this story with an early edition of Destination:Freedom, rescue workers put the death toll at 18, but had yet to get into one of the railroad cars that was effectively covered by another by the impact, which took place on a curved, single-track section of former Southern Pacific rail line, now owned by Union Pacific. Rescuers were reportedly stripping the metal off the cars layer by layer to get to the wounded and the dead, and were proceeding with great care so as not make the situation even worse.

The driver of the Metrolink train, or engineer as he is commonly called, was killed. The fate of the freight engine driver and his conductor was not yet known.

A spokesman for Metrolink said the train was carrying 350 people, and that 135 had been injured, many critically.

The Los Angeles Times described the scene, near Stoney Point Park in Chatsworth on a curve where the track turns to pass under a highway via a short tunnel, as carnage, as rescuers attempted to sort the living from the dead and extract them through access windows, as well as badly gaping holes in the rail cars.

“Metrolink conductor Bob Hildebrand, injured in the crash, told retired Amtrak engineer Tom Dinger the train was going 40 miles an hour when the accident occurred,” the LA Times reported. The train normally has three passenger cars, it added.

“Albert Cox, 53, a passenger sitting in the last car, said he saw that the Metrolink and Union Pacific trains were sharing the same track as they rounded a curve,” the LA Times also reported.

Metrolink train No. 111 left Union Station in downtown Los Angeles at 3:35 p.m. local time September 12 heading to Moorpark, about 48 miles to the northwest, KNBC said. The collision took place about one hour later near the intersection of the Ronald Reagan (118) Freeway and Topanga Canyon Boulevard, about 30 miles from Union Station.

Amtrak’s Coast Starlight from Seattle,, which uses the same line to enter Los Angeles, will originate and terminate in Santa Barbara until further notice, the railroad said, with bus service provided to downtown LA. For updates see www.amtrak.com.


Return to index
END NOTES...  Publication Notes...

Copyright © 2008 National Corridors Initiative, Inc. as a compilation work and original content. Permission is granted to reproduce content provided acknowledgements to NCI are given. Return links to the NCI web site are encouraged and appreciated. Color Name Courtesy of Doug Alexander. Content reproduced by NCI remain the copyrights of the original publishers.

Web page links as reproduced in our articles are active at the time we go to press. Occasionally, news and information outlets may opt to archive these articles and notices under alternative web addresses after initial publication. NCI has no control over the policies of other web sites and regrets any inconvenience experienced when clicking off our web site.

We try to be accurate in the stories we write, but even seasoned pros err occasionally. If you read something you know to be amiss, or if you have a question about a topic, we’d like to hear from you. Please e-mail the editor at editor@nationalcorridors.org. Please include your name, and the community and state from which you write. For technical issues contact D. Kirkpatrick, NCI’s webmaster at webmaster@nationalcorridors.org.

Photo submissions are welcome. NCI is always interested in images that demonstrate the positive aspects of rail, transit, intermodalism, transportation-oriented development, and current newsworthy events associated with our mission. Please contact the webmaster in advance of sending large images so we can recommend attachment by e-mail or grant direct file transfer protocols (FTP) access depending on size. Descriptive text which includes location and something about the content of the image is required. We will credit the photographer and offer a return link to your web site or e-mail address.

In an effort to expand the on-line experience at the National Corridors Initiative web site, we have added a page featuring links to other transportation initiative sites. We hope to provide links to those cities or states that are working on rail transportation initiatives – state DOTs, legislators, government offices, and transportation organizations or professionals – as well as some links for travelers, enthusiasts, and hobbyists. If you have a favorite link, please send the web address (URL) to our webmaster.

Destination Freedom is partially funded by the Surdna Foundation, and other contributors.

|| Top of Page || Past Newsletter Editions || NCI Home Page || Contact Us

  || page viewings since date of release.