The Metrolink accident should serve as a lesson to the federal government
Source: Teamsters Canada Rail Conference
Published: September 25th 2008

Ottawa -- The toll from the head-on collision between a Metrolink passenger train and a Union Pacific freight train, on September 15 in Chatsworth (50 km northwest of Los Angeles), comes to 25 dead and 134 injured, including around forty in critical condition; this is the worst train accident in the United States in the last fifteen years or more.

There was only one locomotive engineer on board the Metrolink train that failed to stop.

“The safety of rail industry workers, in addition to that of the public, is at stake if a single locomotive engineer is left to operate a train in isolation, in particular those high speed passenger train operations” said Dan Shewchuk, President of Teamsters Canada Rail Conference. “Each second is precious and a momentary lapse of concentration can lead to catastrophes of this nature,” he added.

The Teamsters Canada Rail Conference insists that the federal government intervene to force companies working in rail transport to put two people in the cab of a locomotive similar to that required in the cockpit of an airplane.

“The Metrolink accident must serve as a lesson for us and remind Canadians that it is necessary to have more than one locomotive engineer in the cab of the locomotive to ensure passengers’ safety,” warned Shewchuk. “Trains often carry more passengers than planes!”

The commuter train, which was carrying 222 people, had entered onto a track while the Union Pacific freight train arrived head-on. The two trains collided while each was traveling at about 60 km/h.

“Just imagine if the freight train had been transporting dangerous materials. The situation would have been apocalyptic,” concluded Shewchuk.

The Teamsters Union represent about 15,000 workers in the Canadian rail industry.