Dem senator: Railway crossings relying on '19th century technology'

Dem senator: Railway crossings relying on '19th century technology'
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Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said Tuesday that train crashes like the California Metrolink commuter railway accident could be avoided with better railway crossing technology.

"While it is too soon to know what may have contributed to today’s tragedy, far too many crossings nationwide rely on 19th century technology," Blumenthal said in a statement. "Modern engineering, increased education and stronger enforcement are needed now.”


The accident on Tuesday morning occurred when a train traveling on Metrolink’s Ventura line collided with a truck in its path at a crossing in Oxnard just west of Los Angeles. About 30 passengers were injured in the crash. 

“My thoughts and prayers are with those injured this morning in yet another highway-rail grade crossing collision," Blumenthal said. 

"These grade crossings are not accidents waiting to happen, they are accidents happening again and again, claiming lives and causing catastrophic injuries and damage," he continued. "These deaths and injuries can be prevented through better education, enforcement and engineering."

Blumenthal introduced legislation to increase funding for the Federal Railroad Administration to improve railway-crossing safety after a similar accident occurred last month on New York’s Metro-North commuter rail system. 

The measure, co-sponsored by Sen. Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden to meet with GOP senators amid infrastructure push The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - Upbeat jobs data, relaxed COVID-19 restrictions offer rosier US picture How to fast-track climate action? EPA cutting super pollutant HFCs MORE (D-N.Y.), would “provide new resources to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), states and communities to make critical engineering and safety upgrades at rail crossings, like installing new lights and signals, particularly at accident-prone crossings,” according to the lawmakers’ offices. 

Blumenthal said Tuesday's Metrolink accident in California showed the problems with railroad crossing signals are not limited to areas in the Northeast, where commuter rail is most heavily used. 

The recent string of public transportation accidents, including a fatal smoke incident on the Washington, D.C., Metrorail, have prompted calls for new regulations to boost U.S. transit safety. 

The Obama administration has proposed new regulations that would allow states to create independent watchdog agencies to oversee local public transit systems. 

The National Transportation Safety Board is launching an investigation into Tuesday's Metrolink accident. 

"The National Transportation Safety Board is sending a go-team to investigate today’s rail grade-crossing accident in Oxnard," the agency said in a statement. "Robert Accetta is leading the team as investigator-in-charge. Board member Robert L. Sumwalt is accompanying the team and will serve as the principal spokesman during the on-scene phase of the investigation."