The tragic Metrolink crash in Chatsworth prompted several officials to wake up to the serious and real safety issues present in the railroad industry. While most railroad companies have yet to lift a finger, safety changes and legislation are in the making. Given a history of false promises and repeated dodging of the issues on the part of railroad companies, promises of safety improvements are only to be taken seriously if steps are taken that are realistic and concrete yet extreme enough to actually help bring about change.
It appears that Metrolink is actually taking these sorts of steps. By next winter, they promise crash energy management technology on all of their cars, which helps reduce derailments and injuries in the event of a collision. More exciting, however, is their Sealed Corridor Program, which is already underway and through which 120 improved railroad crossings will be outfitted with much-needed safety devices, including dedicated turn lanes, a gate to prevent drive-arounds, and a pedestrian gate. There is also automatic train stopping technology being worked on, which provides collaboration with satellites to help trains stop before a collision.
These improvements and promises are certainly exciting. If Metrolink follows through with all planned improvements, perhaps their example will lead other train companies into the era of system safety. It’s an era we could have been living in a long time ago. And perhaps best of all would be if the federal authorities collectively realize just how plausible massive safety improvements are in the railroad industry, and then pass legislation accordingly which drags the more reluctant and greedy companies out of negligence.