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Metrolink – Union Pacific Collision in Chatsworth,CA 9/12/2008

On Friday 9/12/08 at approximately 1630 hours, the TSA LAX Surface Inspector staff was notified by Metrolink of a collision involving a Metrolink commuter train and a Union Pacific freight train in Chatsworth, CA. Chatsworth is a suburb of Los Angeles, 30 miles northwest of downtown. Inspectors Luevano and Madrigal responded to the scene of the collision and arrived at 1920 hrs. Upon our arrival, we were able to confirm with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and Union Pacific Railroad Police, that there was no indication that the incident was the result of an intentional act or terrorism.

The section of track where the accident occurred is owned and dispatched by Metrolink and is single track. It connects Los Angeles and Ventura counties and is one of only two railroad connections between Northern and Southern California. It is utilized by Metrolink, Amtrak, and Union Pacific Railroad. The UP train involved in this incident was a local (short-distance) traveling south from Oxnard, CA to Van Nuys. It was carrying a load of strawberries, plastics, and miscellaneous goods. The Metrolink train was traveling north from L.A. Union Station to Moorpark, CA with approximately 220 passengers, in three passenger cars. Twenty five persons, including the Metrolink engineer, were killed in this accident and 130 were injured.

The preliminary investigation indicates that the Metrolink train was supposed to stop at Control Point Topanga and wait for the Union Pacific freight train to pass. The Metrolink train however, did not wait, and proceeded through. The trains were both traveling at approximately 40 m.p.h. at the time of the collision. NTSB is the lead investigative agency for this accident.

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