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Metrolink tribute honors crash victims

September 8, 2009 2:06:50 PM PDT
A special tribute was unveiled Tuesday morning at Union Station in Downtown Los Angeles, honoring the victims of the deadly Metrolink crash that took place nearly one year ago in Chatsworth.A plaque entitled "Unfinished Journeys" pays honor to those killed and injured in the crash, as well as the first responders.

Twenty-five people died on Sept. 12, 2008, when a Metrolink train headed to Oxnard went past red signals, and slammed head-on into a Union Pacific freight train near the historic Chatsworth railroad tunnel.

Speaking at the unveiling of the plaque, Metrolink board chairman Keith Millhouse talked about how improving rail safety is the best way to honor the victims.

"The tragic events of a year ago have spurred significant federal action in congress and dynamic improvements on the rail safety system, and we intend to continue those, because without significant safety improvements we don't honor the memory of the people who perished on our system," said Millhouse, who wants to make the local rail system the "safest commuter rail system in the country."

Some of those improvements include adding a second engineer to many trains and adding automatic train stops at dozens of locations.

Further improvements are in the works, including cameras in the cabins to monitor the engineers, and sensors that warn engineers as they approach potentially dangerous spots, like a crossing or a blind turn.

By 2015 all rail systems in the country must, by law, have the Positive Train Control system in place: Every train must be equipped with GPS locations that will allow a centralized computer system to warn engineers if their train appears headed for a collision. If the engineer doesn't pull the brakes, the system stops the train.

The Metrolink board says it plans to have the Positive Train Control system on its trains by 2012.

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