CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: What We Are Doing to Protect Our Clients

Two Trains Given Permission to be on Main Track Before Head-On Crash

Two Trains Given Permission to be on Main Track Before Head-On Crash

A report on the head-on collision between two Sacramento Regional Transit trains on August 22 was released by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on October 30. The preliminary report explained why the collision occurred that injured 27 people with 13 taken to the hospital. The accident happened at Roseville Road and Marconi Avenue in Sacramento near the Winter Street rail station. The NTSB report stressed that additional train movements were authorized by the SacRT Metro Control Center. SacRT said it would quickly implement any changes recommended by the NTSB.

Additional Details

According to the report, a controller at the Metro Control Center gave permission for a maintenance train to do propulsion testing on the main track. At the time, the No. 9 train, which was about 15 minutes behind schedule, was traveling north on the same track. The technician in charge of the maintenance train was able to reach 50 mph before he stopped the locomotive and reversed its direction, placing it southbound on the main track. This resulted in a head-on train crash with the No. 9 train that was going 32 mph.

Improvements After the Crash

Immediately after the August 22 crash, changes requested by the California Public Utilities Commission were discussed. The changes would require that two individuals be in the control room when a passenger train is operating on the mainline. The California PUC also requested that testing trains should only be allowed when the track is free of passenger trains. 

Train Crashes

 Many train wrecks are caused by human miscommunication. The primary reasons for train accidents are:

  • Negligence: This includes negligence by railroad employees or company protocol. 
  • Mechanical failure: This includes problems with the existing train parts or with mechanical defects. Maintaining the train is of utmost importance. If this is not done, train accidents can occur. The company can be held liable. However, if a part is defective, the manufacturer can be taken to task in an injury claim.  
  • Human error: This occurs on occasion despite the level of competence of the person involved. Sometimes, misjudging distance or visual impairment can be involved. Inexperienced personnel are to blame on occasion. Conductors can make mistakes due to fatigue. Technicians in the communication center can too, giving conductors the wrong information. 
  • Speed: If trains are traveling at a high rate of speed, the consequences of the collision will be greater. A high speed also increases the risk of derailment. 
  • Reckless motorists: This usually happens when a motorist tries to beat the train. It is difficult to determine how much time is left before the train reaches the crossing. When a train collides with a passenger vehicle, the occupants of the smaller car or truck are likely to be killed.
  • Track issues: On occasion, an object is left on the tracks. Depending on the size of the object, this can result in a problem. Although conductors are expected to be cognizant of their surroundings, a small object can be overlooked. 
  • Derailment: This occurs when the train leaves the track, either partially or totally. It can be caused by broken wheels, defective tracks, failure of track mechanics or conductor error. Again, the faster the train is moving, the worse the derailment. 

What an Attorney Can Do

After a train crash, the scene is chaotic, and the effort is aimed at removing injured passengers and train employees and caring for injuries. Federal and local authorities will be canvassing the scene. It is literally impossible for an injured person to do what needs to be done to prove fault. That is where our firm can help. We send our investigative team to the accident scene to survey the crash, speak to witnesses and authorities. If the cause is not readily apparent, we will need to review the accident reports that follow. Once all information is available, the investigators release the data, including medical records of injured passengers, to our lawyers. They use this to build a strong case to obtain the compensation our client deserves.

Train Accident Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento train accident lawyer. Being injured in a train accident is a traumatic experience. I can help obtain the compensation you deserve. Call me at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 for free and friendly advice. You can also reach me online.

I’ve helped Sacramento residents since 1982 in all types of car accidents, wrongful deaths, and traumatic injuries of all kinds.

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