(Washington, D.C. – December 9, 2011)
The U.S. operations of Paris, France-based Veolia Transport will conduct an extensive study into assessing the factors contributing to the distraction of locomotive engineers during passenger rail service operations and to develop a rigorous training program focused on techniques to mitigate distraction, having been selected by the Federal Railroad Administration to perform the contract work this past June.
In case the Veolia Transport name sounds a bit familiar, it was Veolia’s Connex subsidiary which was contracted by Los Angeles, CA-based Metrolink to supply operating personnel for Metrolink’s heavy rail passenger commute operations, and it was a Connex-employed locomotive engineer who was responsible for the tragic Sept. 12, 2008 collision between a Metrolink passenger train and a standing Union Pacific freight train in which 24 Metrolink passengers died and another 135 were seriously injured.
The Connex/Veolia engineer was texting on his cell phone, missed a red “stop” signal, and died in the ensuing collision with the UPRR train on Union Pacific tracks.
The FRA contract for the locomotive engineer distraction study will pay Veolia $250,000 for the study and training course, and Veolia has announced that senior company official George Elsinore will be given charge of the project and “moved from his position heading rail safety for Veolia because of the importance of this work.”
The FRA could not have selected a less appropriate contractor to study and develop a program to prevent distraction of locomotive engineers, given Veolia’s performance at Chatsworth, CA and the ensuing litigation in which the company refused to “do the right thing” and sufficiently compensate victims, hiding instead behind a federal law which severely limits cumulative compensation amounts to victims and their families to barely enough to cover some medical bills.