Metrolink Trains Have Safety Feature Lacking In Fatal New Jersey Commuter Train Crash

LOS ANGELES ( — The commuter train crash that killed one person and injured 108 others in New Jersey Thursday brought a question to mind for Los Angeles rail commuters: Could it happen here?

“It was disturbing,” said Ralph Comito, who was at Union Station with his wife Ann Thursday morning.

In the New Jersey crash Thursday morning, a train approaching a Hoboken station crashed through a barrier and into a waiting area on a platform.

Witnesses said they didn’t hear or feel the brakes being applied before the crash, and the train was believed to have been heading into the station far faster than the 10 mph speed limit permitted.

“The train came in at much too high rate of speed, and the question is: ‘Why is that?'” Governor Chris Christie said.

So what’s being done to prevent such a tragedy in Southern California?

Well, Metrolink trains, which serve six counties in Southern California, have been equipped with a safety system called Positive Train Control. It’s designed to keep a train from going too fast and helps prevent derailments.

Metrolink was the first commuter rail system in the U.S. to put the safety measures in place after a deadly 2008 crash in Chatsworth.

New Jersey Transit says the Hoboken train wasn’t equipped with PTC.

USC professor James Moore says New Jersey Transit is required by law to install the technology by the end of 2018.

“Would it have made a difference? Almost certainly, assuming the hypothetical PTC system in place operated the way PTC are supposed to. It would have almost certainly avoided that outcome,” Moore said.

Of course, Metrolink Trains are different from Metro, or MTA trains, which are smaller, lighter and slower and are not required by the federal government to have PTC technology.

The Comitos, meanwhile, have no plans to stop traveling by rail.

“You can’t predict what will happen so you have to go and live your life,” Ann Comito said.

(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)



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