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Rail safety can be improved

September 18, 2008

Re "Metrolink balked at safety upgrade's cost," Sept. 17

Your article was right to point out that if positive train control technology is to work, the anti-collision technology must be used by freight and passenger rail.

That is not the case today. In California, there are roughly 5,000 miles of rail track, over which more than 20 freight railroads, five regional and commuter operators, as well as Amtrak, run trains. All those railroads need to be equipped with collision avoidance systems that communicate with one another if we are to reduce the likelihood of accidents.

We look forward to working with passenger rail and commuter agencies, as well as the Federal Railroad Administration, to implement a standardized anti-collision system.

Edward R. Hamberger

Washington

The writer is president and chief executive of the Assn. of American Railroads.

Many Metrolink survivors relate how they were thrown forward into seats six to eight rows ahead. Reading about the kind of injuries they sustained makes it clear that these impact traumas were a major contributor to the casualty count. Seat belts could have reduced this.

We fly to Hawaii every year. When we leave home in the car, we buckle up. On the flight, we buckle up. The only part of the trip in which we cannot buckle up is on the FlyAway bus from Van Nuys to LAX.

Frankly, I feel insecure when I can't buckle up when using mass transportation. Let's put seat belts on buses and rail cars.

Albert Bigelow

Valencia

One item that has been overlooked regarding safety concerns with Metrolink trains is the presence of tables between seats that face each other. My friend is in critical condition because he essentially impaled himself on the table in front of him during the Chatsworth collision, sustaining extensive internal injuries.

I spoke with other riders in the triage area after the collision who said their ride mates who were seated at tables facing the front of the train suffered similar fates.

I'd suggest that this "convenience" be considered a potential hazard, and urge Metrolink to have these tables removed.

Dave Dolnick

Thousand Oaks

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