Southern California’s Metrolink examining safety of state-of-the-art rail cars in wake of Oxnard crash

September 3, 2015

The Metrolink commuter railroad announced Thursday that it will evaluate the safety of dozens of new crash-resistant passenger cars — the type officials claimed reduced casualties in the collision of a truck and train near Oxnard this year.

Officials are trying to determine whether a possible design flaw in the cars played a role in the derailment that injured 27 Metrolink passengers and killed the train’s engineer.

The evaluation involves so-called cab cars, passenger coaches with an engineer’s station. They are at the front of trains when they are pushed from behind by locomotives — a common practice used by the nation’s commuter railroads when trains reverse direction at the end of a line.

While the railroad, which serves six Southern California counties, reexamines safety features on 57 cars built by the Hyundai Rotem Co., the cars will be temporarily replaced in the front of trains with locomotives leased from the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Co.

In February, a Metrolink train with a Rotem cab car in front derailed after hitting a pickup truck and trailer that strayed into a grade crossing at 5th Street and Rice Avenue outside of Oxnard.

Metrolink officials were quick to declare that the state-of-the-art cars with energy absorbing crush zones, heavier construction and anti-derailing features appeared to reduce deaths and injuries in the accident. The $263-million investment for 137 Rotem cab cars and regular coaches, they said, had clearly paid off.

Read Los Angeles Times reporter Dan Weikel’s full story by clicking here.


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