Thursday, September 18, 2008

Deadly crash raises safety doubts about SoCal rail

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A head-on collision that left 25 people dead has brought new scrutiny to the safety of Southern California's regional rail service — a system that has logged more fatalities than any similarly sized system in the nation in recent years.

The catastrophic collision of a Metrolink commuter train and a Union Pacific freight train last week also prompted calls for national safety reforms.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wants a review of state and federal rail oversight, and Congress is considering compelling railroads to install satellite-linked technology that can detect runaway trains and put on the brakes — an idea that has languished for years.

Two statistics put Metrolink at a disadvantage relative to other commuter-rail systems when it comes to safety: It has far more street-level crossings than similarly sized railroads, and must share tracks with freight trains more frequently than any of its peers.

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