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Metro Train Crash in Washington DC

June 22nd, 2009 No comments

Two Washington DC Metro Commuter Trains crashed into each other before 5 pm rush hour this afternoon. Reports says six were dead and many other injuries have been reported.

This is the second such major rail catastrophe in recent history. The first was the crash in California that resulted in text messaging being banned from commuter rail. Hopefully history has not repeated itself with the situation in Washington, DC. The train crash hits home for me as I could have been one of the passengers on these trains or even my friends. I have not heard reports on who all was involved so I still may know someone. Please keep the victims and families of Washington DC in your thoughts.

Read the full Report from CNN.com

Six killed in Washington-area Metro train collision

WASHINGTON (CNN) — A rush-hour collision Monday between two Metro trains north of downtown Washington, D.C., killed at least six people and injured scores, Mayor Adrian Fenty said.

One train was stationary when the crash happened, according to Metro General Manager John Catoe.

He called it the deadliest crash in the history of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, known as Metro. One of the dead was the female operator of one of the trains, Metro officials said.

“The scene is as horrific as you can imagine,” Fenty said in a news conference. “One car was almost squeezed completely together.”

Seventy-six people were treated for injuries, including two with life-threatening injuries, said Chief Dennis Rubin of Washington’s Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department. Two of the injured were emergency responders, Rubin said. See location of crash »

The crash happened just before 5 p.m. on an above-ground track on the Red Line in the District of Columbia near the border with Takoma Park, Maryland.

Both trains were on the same track, and one of them was stationary when the crash happened, said John Catoe, Metro general manager.Video Watch woman say she, fellow passengers “went flying” »

Video footage of the scene showed two cars of one train lying atop the cars of the other train. Emergency personnel carried injured passengers, some on stretchers, from the wreckage. Video Watch injured passengers limp from the scene »

“Metro officials do not know the cause of the collision and are not likely to know the cause for several days as the investigation unfolds,” a Metro statement said.

Fire department personnel cut through the trains to help people from the wreckage, officials said at a press briefing. Some three hours after the accident, fire department sources said rescue operations had ceased, with ongoing work focusing on recovery. Photo See pictures of crash site »

A survivor, Jodie Wickett, described feeling a bump on the track, and then being flung forward when the train suddenly halted a few seconds later. She said she hit her head, but managed to get out and go to where the collision occurred a few cars up, where one subway car lay atop another.

“There was debris, and people pinned under in-between the two cars,” Wickett said. “We were just trying to get them out and help them as much as possible, pulling back the metal.”

People were badly injured, she said. “Ones that could speak were calling back as we called out to them.”

One car was “about 75 percent compressed,” and recovery workers aren’t sure if any more bodies are inside, Fenty told CNN’s “Larry King Live” on Monday night.

“We just haven’t been able to cut through it to see if there’s bodies in there,” Fenty said.

A certified nursing assistant who was on one of the trains told CNN affiliate WUSA she was trying to help those in severe condition after the crash, including a lady who appeared to be in her 20s.

“She is very, very torn in her legs — the muscles and everything are torn, ripped through. She had metal pieces in her face,” said the nursing assistant, who said her name was Jeanie.

Other witnesses described seeing more blood than they had seen before.

Tom Baker, who was in the train that hit the stationary train, told WUSA that after the collision, he looked toward the front of the car, and when the smoke cleared, “all you could see was sky.”

Jasmine Gars, who also was on the moving train, told CNN’s “Larry King Live” that the collision “was like nothing I’ve ever felt before.”

“It was like we hit a concrete wall,” Gars said. “Almost immediately I fell off my seat. Another person — I don’t know who — flew off their seat. And the lights went off and smoke started filling the train car.”

Four people were taken to Providence Hospital in Washington, including two with back injuries, one with a hip injury and one complaining of dizziness from hitting her head, hospital officials said.

Washington Hospital Center reported seven patients from the crash with injuries ranging from serious to minor, while Howard University Hospital reported three and Suburban Hospital in Maryland reported two.

Groups of people wearing green plastic ribbons to show they had been checked by paramedics left the scene about 90 minutes after the crash. Some were crying, and a woman with her arm in a sling who gave her name as Tijuana described the crash as “an earthquake.”

The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash, NTSB spokeswoman Bridget Serchak said.

At least two FBI officials were at the scene, and the FBI confirmed it was assisting as part of the National Capital Response Squad.

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Amy Kudwa of the Department of Homeland Security said “at this early stage,” there was no indication of anything other than an accidental collision.

It was the second Metro crash to involve fatalities in the 33-year history of the transit authority. In January 1982, a derailment killed three people. The only other collision between Metro trains occurred in 2004.

“We are extremely saddened that there are fatalities as a result of this accident, which has touched our Metro family,” Catoe said in a statement.

“Our safety officials are investigating, and will continue to investigate until we determine why this happened and what must be done to ensure it never happens again.”

Maglev Comes to Birmingham

April 17th, 2009 3 comments

High Speed Rail MapMaglev high speed trains are coming to Birmingham.  In a proposal by the Obama Administration high speed trains will connect Atalanta, New Orleans, Houston, and Birmingham in the Gulf Coast Corridor.

According the Federal Railroad Administration the “vision is to transform the nation’s transportation system, by rebuilding existing rail infrastructure while launching new high speed passenger rail services in 100-600 mile corridors that connect U.S. communities. Similar to how interstate highways and U.S. aviation system were developed in 20th century: partnership between public sector and private industry, including strong Federal leadership that provided a national vision”.

The proposal was released yesterday (April 17, 2009) and by no means definite. Funds have been allocated to the tune of $8 Billion initially and $1 Billion annually over the next five years. These funds are considered a down payment on what is surely to require many more Billions of dollars from state and local governments. First round Federal Grants are expected to be awarded by the end of Summer 2009.

Obama’s administration is promising a transparent approach in development and outlines what appears to be a three phase plan to implement based on merit and benefits.

  • First round of applications will focus on projects that can be completed quickly and yield measurable, near-term job creation and other public benefits.
  • Next round to include proposals for comprehensive high-speed programs
    covering entire corridors or sections of corridors.
  • Additional funds will be available for planning to help jump-start corridors not yet ready for construction.

Ten Major Corridors have been Identified.

  • California Corridor (Bay Area, Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Diego)
  • Pacific Northwest Corridor (Eugene, Portland, Tacoma, Seattle, Vancouver BC)
  • South Central Corridor (Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Dallas/Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio, Little Rock)
  • Gulf Coast Corridor (Houston, New Orleans, Mobile, Birmingham, Atlanta)
  • Chicago Hub Network (Chicago, Milwaukee, Twin Cities, St. Louis, Kansas City, Detroit, Toledo, Cleavland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Louisville)
  • Florida Corridor (Orlando, Tampa, Miami)
  • Southeast Corridor (Washington, Richmond, Raleigh, Charlotte, Atlanta, Macon, Columbia, Savannah, Jacksonville)
  • Keystone Corridor (Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh)
  • Empire Corridor (New York City, Albany, Buffalo)
  • Northern New England Corridor (Boston, Montreal, Portland, Springfield, New Haven, Albany)

Also, opportunities exist for the Northeast Corridor (Washington, Baltimore, Wilmington, Philadelphia, Newark, New York City, New Haven, Providence, Boston) to compete for funds for improvements to the nation’s only existing high-speed rail service, and for establishment and upgrades to passenger rail services in other parts of the country.

The proposed high speed rail system is intended for immediate economic relief creating new jobs, specifically in the construction and manufacturing sector.  Proposals have also been made that this system will be a green system.  A date for breaking ground on the project was not proposed in the announcement.  Planning and funding application time line goes through February of 2009.  So the immediate impact on Middle-class workers isn’t likely until years to come.

From the Federal Railroad Administration on the Gulf Coast Corridor:

Gulf Coast High Speed Train Corridor
Major Cities: Houston, New Orleans, Mobile, Meridian, Birmingham, Atlanta

Overview: The designated Gulf Coast Corridor would use New Orleans as its hub, with three spokes reaching (1) Houston, (2) Mobile, and (3) Birmingham and Atlanta. At Atlanta, the Gulf Coast Corridor would connect with the Southeast Corridor to Charlotte, Richmond, Washington, and Northeast Corridor points. At present, no corridor-type intercity rail service operates in this corridor, although Louisiana has been working with Amtrak and the Kansas City Southern to initiate a commuter service between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. The FRA has made study grants to the Southern High-Speed Rail Commission (SHSRC, formerly known as the Southern Rapid Rail Transit Commission), which comprises appointees of the three member states (Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama).

Status: Current activity includes a Baton Rouge to New Orleans conceptual engineering study and a New Orleans gateway rail improvement project.

For Further Reading on the High Speed Rail system from the Federal Railroad Administration:

Other News articles:

Text Messages banned on California Trains

September 18th, 2008 No comments

So did you catch the latest round of news about the California train crash?

It is official that text messaging is being banned on California Metrolink Trains while on duty.  According to a report by the California Public Utilities Commission that the train Engineer, Frank Sanchez, sent text messages while on the job.  As of now there is no indication whether Sanchez sent messages around the time of the accident or not.

The only way to guarantee the ban will be followed is to bar cell phones and messaging devices.  But in the event of communication system failure a Cellphone may serve as a good back up.  I know having a cellphone has saved my hide a time or two.  There are other security issues that have been addressed over time such as the Columbine Shootings and other emergency situations.  In a decision public safety should be the number 1 priority.  This will be interesting to watch to see how other industry and businesses react.

Engineer in Deadly LA Train Crash Was Texting

From the Washington Post

Less than a week after one of the worst train accidents in recent U.S. history, California officials today issued a temporary order banning train operators from using cell phones on duty.

Federal transportation authorities say the engineer of a Southern California commuter train who ran a red light and slammed into a freight train last Friday — killing 25 people and injuring more than 130 others — was text-messaging on his cell phone. The engineer, Robert Sanchez, who died in the crash, never hit his brakes. [Ed. note: Corrected from original post that identified Sanchez as the conductor.]

Officials say they are investigating a report from a TV station, CBS2, that two 14-year-old boys exchanged messages with the engineer moments before the accident.

Today, the California Public Utilities Commission unanimously passed an emergency order to ban the use of cell phones and other personal electronic devices while operating a train.

The National Transportation Safety Board in Washington said today that “records … indicate that the engineer had sent and received text messages on the day of the accident, including some while he was on duty.”

Federal investigators also are looking into whether Sanchez’s back-to-back, split-shift workdays on the Metrolink commuter system, which began before dawn and ended at 9 p.m., could have played a role in the crash.