Image via Wikipedia I have waited a few days to post this so that more details would come out and we would have more facts.
First of all, the tragedy in Los Angeles involving a Metrolink Commuter train was a very tragic accident that should have never happened. We know that the train ran a red signal and hit a Union Pacific freight train head on. Lets review what the Metrolink Train did wrong: first the train ran a red stop signal, and second the engineer was not calling out signals.
Apparently this can be attributed to the fact that the engineer of the Metrolink train was possibly texting on his cell phone. First of all, most railroads have banned the use of cell phones while operating train equipment so that should not be happening. Second, if this is indeed true, then this engineer caused a accident that not only took his own life but the lives of 24 innocent people. This was truly human error and should have never happened.
Sadly some people (you can guess who this people are) are using this tragidy to promote their anti-transit philosophy including Randall O'Toole who seems to be a hero of a certain group here in Salt Lake City. Sadly accidents happen but overall riding the rails is safe. To put it in prospective about 25 people die in auto accidents every six hours. In addition thousands of commuter trains travel the rails every day of the year without incident.
I have to say I am pretty dissapointed with Metrolink itself. The public relations person Denise Tyrrell came out with a statement admiting it was operator error apprently with the approval of the Metrolink CEO. Now she has been forced to resign because the board of directors felt the statement was premature (or more importantetly the National Transportation Safety Board was unhappy). Apparently she is being used as a scapegoat even though it is now pretty clear that the statement was correct. So unlike some companies who have taken a bad situation and made it good, Metrolink has just given itself a worse black eye than it already had. Maybe some in the Metrolink board need to read Public Relations 101?
The Metrolink was a tragedy that should have never happened and my heart goes out to those who lost loved ones in the incident.