By Taylor Begley
Metrolink highlighted its commitment to safety Wednesday by unveiling an exhibit that memorializes the 10 Anniversary of the Chatsworth train collision that killed 25 people and injured a hundred others.
"Today's ceremony is a reminder of why we need to keep the momentum going, why we need to persevere and save lives, and why we should never forget those who perished and were injured in the Chatsworth accident that occurred less than an hour away from here, changing all of our lives forever," said Mark Adamczak of the Federal Railroad Administration, one of several transportation officials who spoke at the event.
Ten years ago today, a Metrolink commuter train collided head-on with a Union Pacific freight train. The investigation into the crash found that the train operator was using his cell phone and missed a stop signal.
Claudia Souser, who lost her husband Doyle in the crash, spoke on behalf of the many families of victims who attended the event at Union Station. In the weeks leading up to the tenth anniversary, Souser said she discovered more about her own grieving process and how the company dealt with safety concerns after the accident.
"I guess I never knew the depth of loss and concern that they felt, how much they grieved with us…I guess I was too caught up in my own grief. I didn't know how quickly they threw their full weight into working on train safety. They did what it took to implement what was needed to happen so that tragedy would never, ever happen again," Souser said.
Souser said she learned from media interviews that Metrolink has become the national leader in rail safety. At the ceremony, officials announced they had invested more than $500 million on safety measures.
Safety improvement efforts began just weeks after the crash with the passing of the Safety and Improvement Act of 2008, which required the installation of Positive Train Control, an advanced electronic system designed to automatically stop a train before certain accidents occur, according to Union Pacific's website.
Earlier this year, Metrolink became PTC interoperable with Union Pacific Railroad and Amtrak – the first in the United States to implement this safety system. This included technology to prevent collisions caused by human error.
"In the event we saw an operator in violation of the procedures we would remove them from the system because safety is so important," Metrolink CEO Art Leahy said.
Tens of thousands of people ride Metrolink trains every day.
"It is our responsibility to get them on and off the train safely," said Metrolink Vice-Chair Brian Humphrey.
Leahy told train riders to arrive early, avoid running and stand back from the platform edge to ensure safety. He emphasized to use caution when crossing a track because it train's more than half a mile to stop.
Metrolink's safety exhibit will be on display in Union Station for the next two weeks to honor Rail Safety Month. The display details the improvements that have been made in the past 10 years, along with explanations of the measures that have been put in place. It includes tablets where Metrolink encourages people to submit comments and suggestions on rail safety.