Federal Investigator Says Commuter Train Ran Red Light

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SANTA ANA, Calif. -- A federal official said Friday that a commuter train ran a red light before sideswiping a freight train Thursday in Rialto, according to The Associated Press.

National Transportation Safety Board investigator Ted Turpin said Friday the eastbound passenger train failed to stop Thursday at a red light about 150 feet before the spot where it hit the rear cars of an oncoming westbound BNSF freight train.

Turpin said the Metrolink train had nearly come to a halt before the incident, and the red signal appears to have been working.

The incident followed a head-on collision between a commuter train and a freight train that killed 25 people in Chatsworth on Sept. 12. Authorities said the engineer on the Metrolink commuter train that day did not stop at a red signal that would have prevented the head-on collision with a Union Pacific freight train.

The incident Thursday was reported at 200 S. Lilac Ave. A Metrolink train heading east from Los Angeles toward San Bernardino collided with a BNSF train about a half-mile from the Metrolink station in Rialto at about 11:30 a.m., agency spokeswoman Joanna Capelle said.

"Although this incident occurred at a low speed, any incident on the Metrolink system is unacceptable," Metrolink Board Vice Chairman Keith Millhouse said. "This incident will be fully investigated to determine the cause, and measures will be taken to ensure that incidents like this do not happen again."

A passenger in the second Metrolink car explained what happened when the trains sideswiped.

"It just started shaking a little bit," said Carina Salano. "Then, it smelled like (something) burned. It wasn't that big of an impact. I thought we ran something over."

The trains sideswiped each other and both remained upright on the tracks, Rialto police Lt. Joe Cirilo said. Police said five people were hospitalized.

"There are no severe injuries. There are some complaints of pain," Cirilo said.

BNSF spokeswoman Lena Kent said the 102-car freight had almost made it onto the side track when the Metrolink struck a flatbed car hauling iron.

There were 15 passengers and crew on the Metrolink train and three on the freight train, Capelle said. Kent said nobody aboard the freight train was injured.

Other commuter trains could not get through the blocked tracks in Rialto, about 60 miles east of Los Angeles. Buses were taking commuters along the line between Rancho Cucamonga and San Bernardino, Capelle said.

The Metrolink train was identified as eastbound No. 306, which left Union Station in downtown Los Angeles at about 10 a.m. The incident occurred just west of the Rialto station.









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