Commuter Rail Safety in the Presence of Freight Rail

Alan Hoback, Angel Williams

Conference: Joint Rail Conference, Univ. of Illinois-Champaign-Urbana, 2010/04


Commuter rail transit (CRT) lines were ranked according the relative intensity of freight rail traffic sharing the same route. The safety of CRT systems are examined within the context of the 2008 Union Pacific collision involving the Los Angeles Metrolink train. Patron fatalities from collisions are not predictable based on the level of freight intensity on a route. They are much more dependent upon many other things such as falls at the station or other mishaps. More fatalities happen from trespassing and at crossings, rather than through collisions, but Positive Train Control (PTC) will likely improve patron and employee safety by preventing collisions. PTC will result in lower fatalities, but many other causes of fatality must also be addressed.

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