A federal panel is wrapping up its 16-month investigation into a commuter train crash in a Los Angeles suburb that killed 25 people and injured at least 130.
The National Transportation Safety Board will probably determine Thursday the probable cause of the accident and make several safety recommendations to prevent future collisions. The crash, which occurred on Sept. 12, 2008, in Chatsworth, Calif., involved a Metrolink commuter train traveling along a track reserved for a Union Pacific freight train.
The trains collided head-on. Each was traveling faster than 40 mph.
Federal investigators previously announced they had found several safety violations relating to the accident. Among them: The commuter train's engineer was sending and receiving text messages shortly before the collision. The engineer, Robert Sanchez, died in the crash. The last of his text messages went out 22 seconds before impact. In all, investigators said he sent and received 43 text messages and made four phone calls while on duty that day.
NTSB investigators have reported that all recorded data and physical evidence in the accident indicated the Metrolink train failed to stop at a red signal. However, some witnesses said they believed the signal light was green.
The crash prompted action on several fronts. Federal regulators banned cell phone use by train operators and Congress passed legislation requiring rail companies to install computer systems that can stop trains that are on a collision course or in danger of derailing because of excessive speed. The systems must be in place by the end of 2015. The local commuter rail agency, Metrolink, is also using video cameras in its trains to record activities inside the locomotive cab.
Metrolink operates a 512-mile network in Southern California. It contracts with Connex Railroad for the personnel who operate and supervise the service.
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