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California Train accident

Page history last edited by Selam Kassa 15 years, 8 months ago

For each entry, include the following as the TITLE

1) the title of the news article (in quotation marks);

2) the author of the article if one is listed (Associated Press & Reuters count as authors);

3) where you read the story (eg: New York Times online), in italics;

4) The URL of the story if you read it online; the page number(s) if you read it in print;

5) the date the story was published (and if you read it on line, the time you consulted it).

At the end of the summary, write your name!


This topic should be covered chronologically from the accident to the final legislation. Paste summaries under the appropriate heading and/or add others as appropriate


The details about the accident from the day after it happened



The investigation of the cause


NTSB investigating California train crash

Associated Press - Story updated at 10:25 pm on 9/14/2008



The Sunday after one of the deadliest rail disasters in fifteen years, federal investigators began to pick through some of the wreckage.  They planned to interview a dispatcher as an attempt to establish why the train was on the same track as a freight train.  The rescuers retrieved two data recorders that Sunday from the train, also one data recorder and one video recorder from the freight train.  The video has pictures on it from forward-looking cameras and the date recorders have the information on the speed, breaking patterns and whether the horn was used. -Danielle Improte


After LA Train Crash, California Approves Cell Phone Ban


Date Published: Friday, September 19th, 2008

Accessed on September 22, 2008 at 10:30 PM



Last Friday around 4:22 pm near Chatsworth, California was where the fatal Metrolink train crash occurred.  Officials said that were about 220 people aboard the train which was heading from downtown Los Angeles to Ventura County.  When the train ran head-on onto a freight train at 42 mph.  The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said that the train’s engineer failed to stop at the final red signal, which then forced the train onto the same track as the freight train.  On Friday September 19, the NTSB confirmed that the engineer who had been driving the train was text messaging while working.  After the accident, two teenagers said they had received text messages from the engineer right before the crash.  Recently the new California rule enforces an immediate ban on the use of wireless devices by any train engineers, conductors and brakemen while on duty.  The only exception of the use of a wireless device would be in emergencies, after a train has stopped and they have received permission from a supervisor. - Danielle Improte



California Train Crash Leaves 25 Dead, 138 Injured

By: Amy Taxin

Associated Press Writer

Accessed September 21, 2008 at 10:00 PM



The investigators had no definite answer to why the train rolled past the stop signals and crashed into the Union Pacific train in Chatsworth.  The National Transportation Safety Board members said that the audio recordings from the train indicate a period of silence as the train passed the last two signals.  The engineer and the conductor should have been performing verbal safety checks at that time.  Although they weren’t sure if at that time they had entered a dead zone where the recordings could have been interrupted.  Metrolink also said that there had been a dispatcher that tried to warn the engineer that the train was about to collide with another train, but the call had come in too late. -Danielle Improte


California Bans Texting by Operators of Trains

By Jesse McKinley and Matthew L Wald

Published: September 18, 2008

Date I accessed it was September 21, 2008 at 10:30 pm 

Mr. Robert M. Sanchez was the engineer of the train that was traveling northwest of downtown Los Angeles.  There were 225 passengers on the train, twenty-five of them were killed and more than 130 passengers were injured.  The train ran a red light, and Mr.Sanchez did not break before the collision.  The investigators found out thtat the engineer was texting while driving, and the distraction of sending and recieving text messages may have been the cause of the collision. - Danielle Improte



“Warning System Could Prevent Train Crashes”

Randal C. Archibold

New York Times online


Published September 15, 2008

I accessed it September 21 at 7:30 PM

Investigators are still trying to determine what caused the Metrolink train and the Freight train to have a head on collision.  It is thought that a system called the positive train control could have avoided this crash and the 25 deaths caused by it.  Mr. Sanchez, the train conductor of the Metrolink train, missed a red light making the two trains come in contact.  Teenagers reported receiving text messages from him around the time of the accident.  This distraction is one theory investigators believe lead to this incident. –Callie Corro



“Commuter Train Did Not Use Brakes, Officials Say”

Randal C. Archibold

New York Times online


Published September 17, 2008

I accessed it September 21 at 8:30 PM

Because there is no evidence of the signal technology working improperly during the day of the train accident, investigators believe the crash was due to the engineer of the Metrolink, Robert Sanchez, passing a red light. Researchers are looking into Mr. Sanchez's schedule for that day.  They are concerned whether fatigue or a health issue could have caused Sanchez to miss the light and an autopsy will be performed.  Despite significant technical difficulties, both California senators demand that all high-risk lines use an anti-collision system like “positive train control” by 2012, and all major lines by 2014. -Callie Corro



Tecchnology that can avoid this from happening in the future


“Vast Controls to Curb Rail Crashes May Be Years Off”

Randal C. Archibold

New York Times Online


Published September 16, 2008

I accessed it September 21 at 8:00 PM

It may take many years until systems similar to the “positive train control” (a system that monitors trains and will stop them if they do not follow the signals) to be used all over the country.  These systems are still undergoing tests in some areas and will be expensive to set up all over the United States.  It is questioned why this technology has been taking so long to create.-Callie Corro



Response to the finding about the engineer


“Several Portraits Emerge of Engineer in Fatal Crash”

Rebecca Cathcart

New York Times online


Published September 20, 2008

Date I accessed it was September 21, 2008 at 11:00 pm

Robert Sanchez was an engineer that was involved in the Metrolink train disaster.  There were many issues going on in his life before the accident.  Some of these include suffering from diabetes, instances of anti-social behavior, and sharing a relationship with David Burton who later committed suicide.  Even though a teenager reported getting a text message from Mr. Sanchez around the time of the crash, investigators wonder whether there was more involved in the cause of the collision.-Callie Corro 


"Engineer in Deadly LA Train Crash Was Texting"

Washington Post


Published September 18, 2008

Date accessed September 22, 2008 2:18 am

After the reckless train crash in in Los Angeles last week many of the laws there have changed. Currently a temporary cell phone ban has been ordered until an official, permanent ban is put into place. Currently this train wreck is one of the worst to have happened since 1993.  All electronic devices have been banned whether operators are operating machinery or not. Officials still do not know if this is the main cause of the train wreck of if Sanchez back to back late shifts could have played a role.- Amelia Jeffcoat


"California Bans texting by Operators of Trains" 

By Jesse McKinley and Matthew L.  Wald

New York Times


Published September 18, 2008

Date Accessed Friday 19, 2008 1:58 pm


After investigating the Los Angeles Metrolink train crash investigators learned that the engineer of the train was sending text messages. The timing of the text messages in question are still being looked at. Robert Sanchez, the engineer, did receive text messages from two teenagers around the time of the accident, which could explain why he did not stop at the stop sign. Investigators learned that Mr. Sanchez sent text messages over the course of his shift when he was not operating the train as well. When not operating machinery the use of cell phones are not banned but that will soon change. - Amelia Jeffcoat


"Warning System Could Prevent Train Crash" 

Randal C. Archibold

New York Times


Published September 15, 2008

Date Accessed September 21, 2008 7:30 pm



Evidence was found that this train crash could have been prevented.  The National Transportation System Board says they have been urging to purchase a system called positive train control. The only reason why this has not been purchased is because it was too expensive. With the positive train control it would have slowed both trains down and prevented the head on collision. The dispatcher did not notice that the train ran the red light until after the accident happened and this equipment would have noticed the moment it happened. Although right now the cell phone is being held accountable for the accident, Sanchez’s boss Tim Smith described him as a responsible worker. - Amelia Jeffcoat


"Metrolink Officials Says Trains Crashed After Their engineer Drove Through a Red Light"

Esmeralda Bermudez, Kate Linthicum and Rich Connell

Los Angeles Times


Published September 14, 2008

Date Accessed September 20, 2008 5:36 pm

Metrolink takes full responsibility for the crash that happened recently in Los Angeles killing 25 people and injuring more than 130 people. At least 40 of the people injured where hurt critically. This train wreck has become one of the worst train wrecks to happen in Southern California for more than fifty years. Metrolink knew the signals were not working properly but they were not yet fixed. As for Robert Sanchez he is remembered as a skilled worker. He worked for Amtrak for 10 years and another private company for more than before working for Metrolink. The people in Los Angeles are preparing for a vigil that will take place to mourn the lives lost. The black box is currently being looked at as evidence to find out the real reason for this horrific train crash.- Amelia Jeffcoat



“California Bans Texting by Operators of Trains”

Jesse McKinley and Mathew L. Wald

New York Times Online


Published September 19, 2008

I accessed this article September 21 at 8:45 PM

9/22/08 assignment

Since the accident, the California Public Utilities Commission has temporarily forbidden train conductors to use cellular technology on the job.  Phone records provide evidence that Robert Sanchez, the train engineer of the Metrolink, was in fact text messaging when he was operating the train but more work is needed to be sure of the exact time-line.  Because of the texting, it is thought that Mr. Sanchez was distracted and as a result missed the red signal.  It is being debated whether the temporary ban on cell phones should be made permanent. -Callie Corro      



“Train Engineer faced challenges in final years”

Greg Risling, Associated Press

USA Today online



Published September 17, 2008

I accessed this article September 23 at 11: oo am

For assignment 9/23/08

Robert Sanchez, the engineer who died when his Metrolink train collided with a freight train, had been dealing with a complex personal relationship, the law, and his health.  The National Safety Board is pretty positive that there were no mechanical problems.  They believe this incident was caused by Sanchez being distracted and failing to stop in response to the red signal.   It is known that Mr. Sanchez was text messaging just before the accident.  They plan to try to find more information about Sanchez by looking into events that occurred in his life before this disaster.-Callie Corro    


"Several Portraits Emerge of Engineer in Crash"

Rebecca Cathcart

New York Times


Published September 20, 2008

Accessed September 22, 2008 7:38 pm

There are different pictures painted of the engineer, Robert Sanchez involved in the deadly Metrolink train crash. His colleagues and employees see him as a nice, dedicated worker, while his neighbors see him as anti-social, and his friends all viewed him as loving. The neighbors of the deceased never really saw Mr. Sanchez. They said his home stood out because it was not taken care of as the others. Besides the negative commentary of his neighbors, he was known as a friendly man. He helped others, especially young children who showed in interest in being engineering by text message in conversations. These same text messages maybe the reason the horrible train crash occurred. One of Mr. Sanchez’s close friends, Ms. Barber said he was a loving man who enjoyed the company of animals. He was only in trouble once in his life and confessed his guilt. Other than that he lived a normal life working on the railroad for over 10 years.- Amelia Jeffcoat


"Metrolink Balked at Safety Upgrade's Cost" 

Robert J. Lopez and Dan Weikel

Los Angeles Times


Published September 17, 2008

Accessed September 23, 2008 2:00 pm


Prior to this horrific accident, Metrolink knew their rail systems could use a safety upgrade. One year ago this company argued about the high cost to carry out safety means to the railroads. Because of this accident and the thought that it could have been prevented, now Congress is deciding whether or not this positive safety control should be mandatory for all railroad lines.  If the Metrolink train that crashed was equipped with the positive train controls this accident would have been prevented. When these controls where talked about a year ago, President Bush argued against them because he said nothing proved they worked. Now Congress is currently trying to pass a bill that will require all trains to be equipped with this recent technology by the year 2012.- Amelia Jeffcoat


“At Least 18 Killed as Trains Collide in Los Angeles”


New York Times online


Published: September 12, 2008

Read: September 17, 2008


During the evening of September 12th, a train accident occurred in Downtown Los Angeles California. Two trains coming from the same direction collided and hit each other. “At least 18 killed as Trains Collided” and most were injured. Help was immediately on its way. People were taken to hospitals all over the area. No one knew what caused such a tragic accident, but knew that one of the trains should have not been there at that time. As rescue workers continued to find more and more injured bodies, people many people were calling family members who were on trains prior to the incident to make sure they were ok. Since the 2005 South California Glendale train incident, this is the most tragic.


Selam Kassa

Warning System Could Prevent Train Crashes


New York Times Online



Published: September 14, 2008

Read: September 17, 2008


Federal Investigators have said that the Warning System could have prevented the 25 people killed in the California train collision. National Transportation Board member, Ms. Higgins reported that if the signal that a red signal was passed was sent, then the train engineers would have received the information and slowed the train down which would allow the trains not to collide. The board has not been strict about this System because they as though it is too expensive and may not be as “reliable” at times. The warning system could have “automatically slowed the trains, perhaps stopping them in time before they met in the deadliest train accident in the country in 15 years.” Investigator Higgins has found several information of cell phone texting that were sent about a minute before the train collision. Though an engineer’s has not yet been found, the two boys that said they were conversing with him will be questioned. Neighbors have said that Sanchez, the engineer has been known to be “reclusive” Investigators are still looking for reasons why the engineer would pass a red signal.  

Selam Kassa

Feds: Technology could have prevented train crash


Washington Post Online


Published September 15, 2008

Read: September 17, 2008


Many federal officials believe that the deaths of 25 people during the train collision were due to the railroads not installing the safety equipment because the cost.  Previous Director of office of safety recommendations for the national transportation safety board Barry M. Sweedler, says that “Unfortunately, it takes a tragedy like this with many people dead for action to take place, even though people in the know knew what needed to be done and didn't do it.” The train driver failed to hold the brakes and passed three lights prior to the collision. The House Transportation Committee has made it clear that it is because of the railroad companies’ lack of investing money into this project that this plan has not been “fully implemented.” Passing three red lights should be a signal to the rail companies to start investing money for more safety.    

Selam Kassa


Cellphone Use Is Banned for Train Workers

Temporary Rule Affects Operators in California

By Ashley Surdin

Washington Post Online


Published: September 19, 2008

Read: September 22, 2008


In Los Angeles California, cell phone use by train operators has been banned temporarily. The national transportation safety board came to a conclusion that Robert Sanchez, who was a metro link engineer during the crash, was texting during the collision. Because of his actions many deaths and injuries occurred. This tragic accident injured nearly over 135 people and killed 25 people. Members of the Public Utilities Commission came to a conclusion that cell phone use had played a large role in the train collision. This includes two other vehicle incidents that occurred in California due to cell phone use. According to investigators, Sanchez never pushed the brakes after each red light.  Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, who are both democratic senators for California, introduced a legislation that would “require all major U.S. railroads to install technology designed to prevent collisions.” Optimistically implementing this law will avert such a tragic event to happen in California again.      


Congress hustling to pass rail reform after crash


Washington Post Online



Published: September 22, 2008

Read: September 24, 2008


This past week congress has been struggling to pass a law “that would limit hours engineers work, mandate technology to stop trains on a collision course and enact the rail industry's first other major reforms in 14 years.” Many people have felt that not much ever gets done unless people start dying. The Federal Safety Authorization Act of 1994 expired and nothing was implemented in its place. After this accident, federal officials have decided to banned cell phone use on trains.  Implimenting this law will prevent any future accidents that will occur in public transportations.               




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