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Kiesel Boucher Larson: “Metrolink Must Finally Do The Responsible Thing…”

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Magdaleno Family Press Conference at Kiesel Boucher Larson, September 15, 2008

The family of Aida Magdaleno filed a claim today against Metrolink, alleging the agency chose not to use the available rail safety features needed to protect Southern California rail commuters. “We don’t want her needless death to have been in vain,” said Juan Magdaleno, brother of the 19-year old college student who was one of 25 persons who perished in the Chatsworth tragedy.

The law offices of Kiesel Boucher Larson allege that Metrolink should have installed positive technology controls to stop trains before crashes occur.

Metrolink must immediately install current positive train controls, which automatically override errors made by human rail employees, such as the engineer who missed a red signal, enabling the collision, which resulted in the freight’s locomotive pushing the Metrolink engine back inside the first coach.

The commuter train Aida was riding crashed into an oncoming train last week, according to Paul R. Kiesel, of Kiesel Boucher Larson, the law firm representing Magdaleno’s parents, Juvenal and Leticia Magdaleno of Camarillo.

“California requires rail carriers like Metrolink to use the utmost care and diligence to protect the public,” Kiesel said. “Metrolink must finally do the responsible thing and install existing positive train controls to help prevent this from ever happening again.”

According to The Los Angeles Times, Metrolink says it does not use positive train control because of the complexity of its track system. However, positive train control projects exist at nine railroads in at least 16 states, but not in California.

Railroad industry representatives say that the reason positive train control isn’t widely used is because of its “high costs.”

Barry M. Sweedler, a former senior director of the NTSB, who retired after 31 years, said, “It’s extremely frustrating. They know what to do to solve these things.”

“What they are saying is that they are willing to accept a certain number of these tragedies every year,” Sweedler said. “This doesn’t make any sense. Let’s put some backbone into this. There is so much that can be achieved.”