Safety Signs Might Be Confusing: Metrolink

Metrolink bypassed a federal requirement to install safety signs designed to limit speed after leaving a station, according to a Public Utilities Commission report.

Metrolink officials said the safety signs weren't installed because they could be confusing. Officials also said Metrolink was granted a waiver.

The report notes that the signs were intended to address one of the safety violations that occurred in a crash that killed 25 people last year. Investigators said a Metrolink engineer sped away from a station and ran a red light before plowing into a freight train.

The requirement was issued more than 10 years ago. The signs remind engineers to restrict speed after leaving a station.

Although the signs might not have prevented the Chatsworth crash, the PUC said any confusion caused by the signs is outweighed by their advantages.

The LA Times reported that the PUC could order Metrolink to install the signs next year. The signs usually require engineers to keep the train under 40 mph until they see a sign that indicates they can increase speed after leaving a station.

The Metrolink train involved in the Chatsworth crash was traveling at speeds of more than 50 mph before it crashed into an oncoming freight train. The Metrolink engineer, who was killed, also was texting moments before impact.

The signs were required by the federal government after two train crashes in 1996. Those crashes in New Jersey and Maryland bore similarities to the Chatsworth disaster -- engineers did not stop at signals.

In a statement Wednesday, a Metrolink spokesperson said, "Metrolink is constantly evaluating the railroad signal system with our federal and state partners with safety our highest priority."

The statement said federal regulators agreed that Metrolink's approach was safe at the time the waiver was granted.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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