Los Angeles Commuter Train Derails

I think the problem is the crossings and human stupidity. Since people haven't learned not to cross when the lights are flashing, maybe we should develop safer crossings that will somehow better keep drivers off the tracks? Separate grades with under and overpasses are an option, but of course such construction projects take time. In the interim, crossing improvements could be done. But that would have to be carried out by the railroad that owns the track, which I think is Union Pacific.

Our push-pull trains here in California don't run with more than six cars, and don't go faster than 80mph. Even then, they only reach those speeds in less-populated areas that have little to no crossings. Fortunately for this Metrolink train, it wasn't going very fast and was able to slow a bit before impact.

I'd suggest that all crossings with gates also get spike strips below the gates that are active when lights are red / gates down. All other crossings should be closed - if people are too silly to use them, one has to stop them from always causing crashes
 
I am under the impression that a 200 ton locomotive was pushing 4 unpowered railcars, like runaway Radio Flyer wagons in front of it.

Put 5 Matchbox diecast cars on a Hot Wheels track, and tape them together with masking tape ... now pull the lead car, towing the 4 cars, into an obstruction ... very little derails behind it.

Now do the same ... and push the rear car, pushing the 4 lead cars, into an obstruction ... and the 200 ton locomotive that is coming to a somewhat slow eventual stop, keeps shoving forward, and derails all of the cars in font of it ... Braking on that train must have taken several hundred feet, with the momentum of all those cars, and a 200 ton locomotives kinetic energy, shoving behind the consist caused a reverse jacknife, zig zag, derailment.

I'm sure that the TTCI Crash Test Center, in Pueblo CO, has tested all these scenarios, crashing a pushed consist into a loaded tractor trailer.
 
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maybe we should develop safer crossings that will somehow better keep drivers off the tracks? Separate grades with under and overpasses are an option

That's what plagues our railway, we have over 100 level crossings just in the Melbourne area and people drive around the gates to beat the train, after being hit the motorists say things like *the gates where not down, I didn't see the lights flashing, I didn't hear the train horn, trains should slow to 20 km/h over crossings*, grade separation is costing tax payers millions and also causes disruptions in train services to keep the stupid people off the crossings.

Cheers.
 
That's what plagues our railway, we have over 100 level crossings just in the Melbourne area and people drive around the gates to beat the train, after being hit the motorists say things like *the gates where not down, I didn't see the lights flashing, I didn't hear the train horn, trains should slow to 20 km/h over crossings*, grade separation is costing tax payers millions and also causes disruptions in train services to keep the stupid people off the crossings.

Cheers.

I can see that happening, yeah right! We could use those flip-up things that are used in Russia and other former Soviet Block countries.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kAd1zhr6twc

Ideally grade separation is the best solution, but municipal, county, and state government won't spend a dime on something like this unless it's absolutely required. Sadly even with horrifically dangerous road intersections, they wait until x-number of accidents occur before a street light is put in. We had one nearby that was multiple stop signs with two on the main road, including one street coming in at a blind corner angle. It took at least my lifetime before a set of lights was put in. Now it's a dream to go through.

John
 
Ever heard of human selection?
If you really are so stupid you manage to overlook a railway crossing (I think the tracks in the road deck, the beams, the bells, the signs are a clear enough hint) and did not hear a fright train coming, one could wonder if it was not just your time to go.
I know, not a popular answer, but still.

I say remove the horns and bells from the trains. We do not have them yet hardly ever have accidents on crossings. Main people dying from getting hit by train here are those committing suicide.
 
It's not his fault that he can not speak english, yet drives a truck on US roads, with english road signs.

Perhaps all US road signs should be printed bi-lingual:

Cruce De Ferrocarril
No Se Detenga En Pistas

Café Caliente
El Contenido Puede Ser Caliente
No Derrame En El Regazo
Genitales Que Escaldarán

Criminal records in his home state of Arizona show Sanchez-Ramirez pleaded guilty in 1998 to a host of violations in a single DUI case, including driving with a blood-alcohol content above .08 percent - the legal limit in the state - failure to obey a police officer, having liquor with a "minor on the premises" and having no insurance, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.
 
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It's not his fault that he can not speak english, yet drives a truck on US roads, with english road signs.

Perhaps all US road signs should be printed bi-lingual:

Cruce De Ferrocarril
No Se Detenga En Pistas

Café Caliente
El Contenido Puede Ser Caliente
No Derrame En El Regazo
Genitales Que Escaldarán

Criminal records in his home state of Arizona show Sanchez-Ramirez pleaded guilty in 1998 to a host of violations in a single DUI case, including driving with a blood-alcohol content above .08 percent - the legal limit in the state - failure to obey a police officer, having liquor with a "minor on the premises" and having no insurance, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.

Whether he speaks a foreign language or not, does not matter when it comes to driving. The roads today all use international symbols for railroad crossings, stop signs, yield signs, traffic lights, etc. When you see cross bucks and flashing lights, it's pretty obvious there is a train coming; don't blow the crossing!
 
Hi everybody
That's what plagues our railway, we have over 100 level crossings just in the Melbourne area and people drive around the gates to beat the train, after being hit the motorists say things like *the gates where not down, I didn't see the lights flashing, I didn't hear the train horn, trains should slow to 20 km/h over crossings*, grade separation is costing tax payers millions and also causes disruptions in train services to keep the stupid people off the crossings.

Cheers.

As someone who has worked in industrial safety for the last 35 years most prevalently within the British road haulage industry (known as trucking in America) you build many views and conclusions in that time. Therefore and without doubt the problem that pervades road transport throughout the developed world is that almost everyone who drives a vehicle feels and believes that they are an excellent driver. The sad situation is that in stating the above, a person who drives the average 10,000 miles per year or above is always stating something which could not be further from the truth.

Driving a vehicle on any road always involves making instant the often complex decision which in any other aspect of life human beings would undoubtedly take at least a few seconds or even longer to consider. The foregoing continuously brings about the mistakes by drivers we all see so often on our roads, but it should be remembered that all of us who are drivers make them at times.

In Britain several years ago following a number of incidents at railway crossings the Road Haulage Association (RHA) along with the Freight Transport Association (FTA) carried out a survey regarding the drivers of heavy goods vehicles attitudes and actions at rail crossings. The outcome of the survey was surprising in that it concluded the more familiar with a crossing a driver was, the more likely it would be that he/she would carry out an unsafe action at the crossing.

The report outlined that drivers approaching a crossing will only cross the tracks if suddenly the Amber signal (where fitted) started flashing and alarms start sounding and they felt that to stop would involve breaking in a manner that could cause an incident to the rear with other vehicles. However, it was a different case at a crossing which became well known to a driver and at which he would be aware of the probable delay if stopped. Then with more knowledge and experience of the characteristics of the crossing, drivers will take more risks by way of running Amber when they could have stopped safely or even running the crossing when the lights have long changed to red but the barriers were yet to come down.

The survey report went further into why professional drivers took such chances. It determined that workload was one paramount factor, state of mind brought on by domestic or financial problems was another and overconfidence in knowing how long it would be between the audible and visual alarms commencing, the barriers coming down and the train arriving.

Statistics from the government health and safety executive have backed up the findings in the above report. Those figures demonstrate that where private car are involved in level crossing incidents, in the vast majority of cases they are owned and driven by people who live within 5 miles of the crossing. With all the above in mind it is now generally accepted within British industrial safety and road safety circles that there is no way of bringing level crossings situated on mainline routes or trunk roads within acceptable safety risk analysis. Therefore the British government has decided to eliminate all level crossings sited in these proximity’s by the installation of bridges or underpasses probably within the next five years.

In reading the foregoing forum members may say that it is “stupidity” to be acting in the above manner especially where vocational drivers are involved. However, whenever I commence classroom tutorial courses with the above driver groups I always ask one question,that being, “Let one person in this room raise their hand and state they have never made a mistake while driving a vehicle, and I will show you a liar”.

No one ever has raised their hand and that always starts the course of in a realistic manner. We all make mistakes while driving and with the vast majority of those mistakes no incident will occur. However, just once in a while a driving mistake will bring about a catastrophic result for the driver and others in the vicinity when that mistake is made, and as stated, with those of us who drive, we all make mistakes.

Bill
 
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I say to keep people from going around the barrier the city or whoever controls the crossing should put in those crossing signals that say "Death" and have skulls and crossbones, that I think BNSF50 made. :hehe:
 
As long as commuter railroads take passenger safety as their first priority and as long as they operate through grade crossings these trains should be required to operate with a locomotive in the lead. Even cars such as those involved in the recent NY crash need a barrier car between the lead car and any object they may strike. The link below shows a crash between a passenger train and a loaded semi at possibly the same place the recent Oxnard, CA crash occurred. There were no fatalities or injuries and no derailment likely because there was an engine in the lead. Had this been a push pull train in push mode it is highly likely the result would have been much different. Certainly the railroad cannot be blamed for motorists stopping on rail crossings but they do have a responsibility for their passengers. As long as grade crossings exist railroads know there will be crashes like the NY and CA crash and passenger trains should operate with a locomotive (or a barrier car) in the lead. Push pull passenger cars cannot stand up to the impact of colliding at high speed with a loaded semi trailer and I think these railroads probably know that.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OBXZsLBI6U
 
As long as commuter railroads take passenger safety as their first priority and as long as they operate through grade crossings these trains should be required to operate with a locomotive in the lead. Even cars such as those involved in the recent NY crash need a barrier car between the lead car and any object they may strike. The link below shows a crash between a passenger train and a loaded semi at possibly the same place the recent Oxnard, CA crash occurred. There were no fatalities or injuries and no derailment likely because there was an engine in the lead. Had this been a push pull train in push mode it is highly likely the result would have been much different. Certainly the railroad cannot be blamed for motorists stopping on rail crossings but they do have a responsibility for their passengers. As long as grade crossings exist railroads know there will be crashes like the NY and CA crash and passenger trains should operate with a locomotive (or a barrier car) in the lead. Push pull passenger cars cannot stand up to the impact of colliding at high speed with a loaded semi trailer and I think these railroads probably know that.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OBXZsLBI6U
I remember that crash. The F59PHI at the head of that Surfliner plowed right through the middle of the truck's trailer. News reports said it was carrying strawberries. What happened with this recent Metrolink crash was that the cab car hit a pickup truck that was towing a trailer, which then part of the wreckage picked up the front of the cab car. A pickup truck has a much stronger structure than a semi's trailer, equating to a more likely chance of derailment. Either way, the speed limit in Oxnard is far from "high speed". I think the fastest speeds anywhere near Los Angeles would be the line between Capistrano and Oceanside, which runs through an undeveloped area (no crossings) around two and a half hours south of LA Union Station by train.

But yes, there is an inherent danger with push-pull operations. Fortunately, these dangers have been recognized and such safe designs like the Hyundai Rotem cars used by Metrolink are designed to help limit structural damage in an accident and thus help to protect passengers. The only push-pull trains I'd be worried about would be across the country, on the NEC. The Northeast Regional sometimes uses ex-Metroliner cab cars at much higher speeds than the West Coast push-pull trains go, yet I haven't heard of any major wrecks involving a push-pull Northeast Regional. The difference is the NEC has eliminated most of its crossings. I'm thinking most high speed European push-pull trains run on similar lines lacking grade crossings.

The danger with push-pull trains lies with obstacles on the tracks, namely cars and trucks. Take out the chance of those obstacles occurring, and push-pull trains will be much safer.
 
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