Keynote address by NTSB Member Jennifer Homendy
Los Angeles CA— Metrolink, Southern California’s regional commuter railroad with nearly 12 million annual boardings, held its Metrolink Rail Safety Summit today welcoming leaders in safety and security from around the country.
Leaders in railroad innovation addressed issues such as railroad crossing safety, mental health and homelessness and their effects on rail safety, along with quiet zone implementation and future improvements to Positive Train Control (PTC).
The keynote address was delivered by National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Member Jennifer Homendy.
“It is my hope that you leave this safety summit feeling inspired-inspired to take action, inspired to strengthen safety on our nation’s railways; inspired to do great things, hard things, to change the course of history in the railroad industry,” Homendy said.
A 2018 study by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) ranked Los Angeles County number one for train strikes against persons nationally, while San Bernardino and Riverside counties were ranked third and seventh, respectively.
“Metrolink and other railroads serving Southern California operate in a dense urban environment with 456 locations where streets cross tracks,” said Metrolink Chair Brian Humphrey. “Each one of those crossings has required lights, bells and safety arms, but motorists and pedestrians must not cross when they are activated.”
Since 2016, Metrolink and all the rail operators servicing Southern California have seen a spike in train collisions. In fiscal year 2016-2017 there were a total of 35 strikes, that rose to 58 in the next year and last year the region had 74 train strikes against persons and vehicles.
In addition to Metrolink, the region also has train service by Amtrak, BNSF Railway and Union Pacific Railroad.
“Safety issues are complex and solving them requires that we consider diverse perspectives,” said Metrolink CEO Stephanie Wiggins. “This safety summit brings together some of the best minds to help identify ways to address these and other issues, to take safety to the next level here and across the country.”
Metrolink hosted the summit in September as California celebrates and promotes Rail Safety Month annually.
“Every year, people die needlessly on or around California’s railroad tracks,” said California Operation Lifesaver Executive Director Nancy Sheehan-McCulloch. “Virtually all track tragedies are avoidable. Unsafe behaviors by motorists and pedestrians are the principal cause of train strikes.”
Metrolink, in partnership with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and other law enforcement partners, have removed homeless encampments from railroad rights of way to prevent people living close to railroad tracks from being harmed.
For more information about Metrolink, please visit metrolinktrains.com.