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Rail News: Passenger Rail

NTSB, FRA investigating Metrolink derailment


National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and Federal Railroad Administration officials are in Oxnard, Calif., today to investigate the Metrolink derailment that occurred yesterday after a commuter train collided with a truck tractor that was sitting at a grade crossing. Thirty passengers were injured.

The truck driver was later arrested after fleeing the scene. Investigators want to know why the truck was on the track; it wasn't stuck, NTSB board member Robert Sumwalt said at a press conference held late yesterday.

The incident occurred when the No. 102 Metrolink train was on its way from east Ventura County to Los Angeles, then struck the vehicle at the crossing on Rice Road in Oxnard, Ventura County. The crossing was protected by a combination of gates, and both post- and cantilever-mounted flashing lights, NTSB officials said in a press release.

Four cars derailed as a result of the crash, with three overturning and coming to a rest on their sides. A portion of the semitrailer remained adjacent to the crossing and the remaining portion of the combination vehicle was carried down the tracks.

Of the 30 people injured, eight were admitted to the hospital. Four were in critical condition, local news media reported.

Metrolink is providing regularly scheduled service today on the Ventura County Line between Los Angeles Union Station and Moorpark station, Metrolink officials announced this morning. Buses are being provided for passengers traveling from Camarillo, Oxnard and East Ventura.

Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) used the incident to reiterate his call earlier this month for improvements to crossings.

"While it is too soon to know what may have contributed to [yesterday's] tragedy, far too many crossings nationwide rely on 19th century technology. Modern engineering, increased education and stronger enforcement are needed now," Blumenthal said in a press release.

Following the fatal MTA Metro-North collision at a crossing in Valhalla, N.Y., Blumenthal and U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) introduced the Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Safety Act of 2015, which would provide additional federal resources to make engineering and safety upgrades at crossings.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 2/25/2015