News & Current Affairs

September 19, 2008

LA train crash prompts phone ban

LA train crash prompts phone ban

File photo of Robert Sanchez

Train operator Robert Sanchez died in the crash along with 24 others

Train drivers in California are to be banned from using mobile phones on duty after a crash in Los Angeles last week that killed 25 people.

The state’s rail regulators said the emergency ruling was a first step to improving railroad safety.

The move comes a day after it emerged the driver of the Metrolink train had used his phone on the day of the crash.

Many rail firms – including Metrolink – prohibit staff from using mobiles on duty, but the rules are often ignored.

There is currently no federal law banning train drivers from using mobile phones at work.

Michael Peevey, president of the California Public Utilities Commission, said the action would “protect the public”.

“What we’re doing… is just a modest first step in a much larger effort to improve railroad safety.”

The use of mobile phones by train drivers is thought to have been a factor in two rail accidents earlier in the year, the commission said.

Anyone found guilty of violating the new order could now be fined up to $20,000 (£11,000).

Phone records

The Metrolink passenger train was carrying 222 passengers between Los Angeles and Moorpark, north-west of the city, when the crash happened a week ago.

Investigators assess train crash in Los Angeles on 16/09/08

Investigators are trying to find out the exact cause of the crash

Rail investigators have concluded that driver Robert Sanchez failed to apply the brakes before a red light – and ploughed into an oncoming freight train.

The force of the impact drove the passenger train’s engine back inside the first carriage.

Mr Sanchez was among 25 people killed and more than 130 injured – the deadliest train accident in the US in 15 years.

The US National Transport Safety Board (NTSB), investigating the crash, has confirmed Mr Sanchez sent and received text messages on his mobile phone at work, but are still determining whether he was doing so at the time of the crash.

They have requested mobile phone records after two teenage train enthusiasts who befriended the driver told a local TV station they received a text message from Mr Sanchez just before the crash.

Investigators have warned it is too early to conclude exactly what caused the crash.

Other causes being studied include possible equipment failure or the chance that the driver was suddenly incapacitated.

Advertisements

September 14, 2008

Human error suspected in LA crash

Human error suspected in LA crash

Human error is being blamed for a train collision on the outskirts of Los Angeles, California, which has claimed the lives of at least 24 people.

The driver of a train with 222 passengers aboard apparently ignored a red signal, causing it to hit a freight train head on, the rail company says.

The passenger train hit the freight train with such force, its engine was shoved back inside the first carriage.

Officials say the chances of finding any further survivors are very remote.

Firefighters have cut through the roof of the train, which is a double-decker, removing chunks of metal piece by piece.

Sniffer dogs have been brought in to try to detect any signs of life.

A spokeswoman for the rail company Metrolink, Denise Tyrrell, told reporters:

“At this moment we must acknowledge that it was a Metrolink engineer that made the error that caused yesterday’s accident.”

It was not immediately clear whether the driver had survived.

The death toll is expected to rise as more bodies are uncovered. More than 80 people are in hospital.

Commuter train

The worst rail crash in the US for 15 years happened at 1632 local time (2332 GMT) on Friday, at a time when the passenger train was carrying 222 people, most of them commuters.

I heard a loud crash and I saw black smoke… some people were mangled pretty bad
Phil Thiele, Metrolink passenger

The passenger train was travelling from Los Angeles to Moorpark, north-west of the city.

It collided with a Union Pacific freight train on a curving stretch of track in Chatsworth, in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles county.

The front coach of the Metrolink passenger train derailed and was crushed by the engine after the collision. Two other coaches of the train remained upright.

Aerial images of the crash scene showed teams of rescuers using ladders to reach injured people inside the mangled front coach.

The Union Pacific freight train was badly damaged in the accident. Officials say two people – the driver and the conductor – were on board the train.

“I heard a loud crash and I saw black smoke… some people were mangled pretty bad,” Phil Thiele, one of the passengers in the front coach, told the Los Angeles Times.

He said he tried to help one man who was pinned between seats: “I tried my damnedest to get him out but I just couldn’t.”


Were you affected by the crash? You can share your experience

September 13, 2008

Deadly train crash in Los Angeles

Deadly train crash in Los Angeles

At least two people have died and more than 20 are feared hurt in a collision between a passenger train and a freight train in California, officials say.

Several coaches were derailed, and rescuers are scouring the scene in the Chatsworth area, north of Los Angeles.

“I’m sure there are a lot of injuries,” Ron Haralson from the Los Angeles County Fire Department was quoted as saying by the Associated Press.

The cause of the accident was not immediately known.

Dozens of firefighters rushed to the scene of the accident, which happened at 1632 local time on Friday (2332 GMT), US officials said.

They battled a fire raging under one of the derailed carriages.

The Los Angeles County Sherriff’s Department told AP at least two people had died.

More than 20 people are feared to have been injured, 10 of them seriously, officials say.

Aerial images of the crash scene showed several teams of rescuers using ladders to reach inside the Metrolink passenger train to pull the injured people.

A number of injured people were treated near the scene, while some were airlifted to hospital, and there are fears that the death toll will rise further.

The passenger train was traveling from Los Angeles to Moorpark, north-west of the city, a Metrolink spokeswoman said.

Up to 350 people could have been on the train, she said.

Blog at WordPress.com.