Monday, September 19, 2005

Evidence that speed and strange tracks can kill

According to the Sun-Times, re: the deadly incident over the weekend, theMetra train was 59 mph over limit , and that it had been doing so on a stretch of already iffy tracks, where another crash had occurred less than 2 years ago: " That section of track was the site of a similar, though less deadly, derailment Oct. 12, 2003. The NTSB report on that accident is not complete, but Rosenker said he expects it to be completed in a few months.

That derailment was blamed on a rookie engineer, who was demoted to assistant conductor. He didn't notice two warnings to slow down before the crossover, which he went through at 67 mph."

So, that busy patch of tracks has an unpleasant history, and the engineers coming through on those double-decker Metra trains have ignored warnings before, and it's still the safest mode of transportation in the world.

If Metra (and Amtrak, for that matter) were run by a private organization, those tracks would, under threat of lawsuit, have been made safer, smoother years ago. And they'd have been done so in a cost-effective manner.

Don't get me wrong -- I love the fact that I can ride a subsidized rail from my little podunk junction village to the Big City for a day trip. I'm just betting that a clever entrepreneur could arrange an equally affordable ride, without taking tax dollars to do it.

No comments: