(FOX 11) - Wednesday, September 12, 2018 is the 10th anniversary of one of Metrolink's darkest days.
On 9/12/08 the engineers of Metrolink Commuter Train #111 and a Union Pacific freight train traveling around 40 miles an hour crashed head-on. Twenty-five people were killed and dozens were hurt. Keith Millhouse, a Metrolink Board Director at the time, says the number was 165.
It was 4:22pm - on a single track from Chatsworth to the Simi Valley - the engineers of the two trains couldn't stop in time to avoid a catastrophic crash.
An investigation showed they saw each other 4 seconds before impact. The National Transportation Safety Board found that The freight train's engineer only had two seconds before impact to hit the emergency air brake.
Metrolink engineer Robert Sanchez never hit his. Investigators with the NTSB found that the 45-year-old Sanchez, who was on an 11 hour split shift, had failed to stop at a red light. He had been texting and sent the last of some 4 dozen messages - 22 seconds before impact.
Metrolink Spokesman Paul Gonzales says, "We had a terrible crash. And, since the time since that crash we've taken a lot of steps to make sure the system is safe." Most notably PTC ... Positive Train Control. Says Gonzales, "It's a system that uses GPS, wireless radio computer technology to speak with the train and the train speaks with the system. And, if a train gets to a point its supposed to slow down and they don't they're notified and if they don't respond then the positive train control automatically slows down the train."
Metrolink officials tell us that Positive Train Control is always on. At Metrolink's simulation center we asked Luis Carrasquero to set up the exact scenario from September 12th, 2008... that single track and speeds up to 40 miles an hour. With PTC there are warnings and when the warnings are not heeded by Carrasquero... the train stops on its own.
Ten years ago, Metrolink officials say that would have saved lives.
Since the Chatsworth crash passengers Jason Cho, Katlynn Thompson and Joseph Casillas have all had uneasy moments on trains. But, Cassillas told FOX 11, " the more you think about it the more it worries you so I just try not to think about it."
Cho says, "The convenience makes it worth it and its been a long time past that and it seems a lot of things changed due to the accident."
It doesn't mean passengers don't think about possibly being in a crash. As Thompson told us, "I've definitely thought about it."
... but, to Metrolink officials PTC should help to ease those fears.
Meanwhile, as conductor Janet Helms checks tickets and then - from an open door - makes sure things are safe along the tracks she also has a thought about the 10-year-anniversary.
She told FOX 11, "Its just not a good day to look back on. At the time I worked at the call center for Amtrak and even though we weren't Metrolink people were still calling " for any bit of information especially... if someone they knew was on the train."
Now, a decade later, Metrolink officials like to think there is light at the end of the tunnel with new technology, cameras, warnings bells and lights... to keep passengers safe.
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