Rice & Bloomfield
Los Angeles Metrolink Commuting: Is it Safe?
The Chatsworth crash between a Metrolink commuter train and freight train, which has killed at least eighteen and injured more than 130, is not the first deadly accident to occur since Metrolink began operating in 1992. In 2005, eleven people died when two Metrolink trains and a freight train collided in Glendale. That accident was triggered when Juan Manuel Alvarez parked his Jeep Cherokee on the tracks in what he said was a suicide attempt. He has since been convicted of murder.
Metrolink was faulted for its configuration of the commuter trains, some of which are pushed from the back in a “pusher configuration,” leaving passengers in the first car vulnerable in any collision. Lawyers and experts argued that, if the heavier engine was in front, fewer passengers would be at risk. As a result, Metrolink roped off the first car in some of its trains. Today, passengers are permitted in the first car of a “pusher configuration” car, but only in the rear portion.
While it is unclear whether the Metrolink train involved in the Chatsworth crash was a “pusher configuration” type train, it is clear that seating in the rear of Metrolink commuter trains is safer than sitting in front