Railroad Accident Report Collision of Metrolink Train 111 with Union Pacific Freight Train LOF65-12 Chatsworth, California September 12, 2008 NTSB Number RAR-10/01 NTIS Number PB2010-916301 PDF Document (1.61 MB)
About 4:22 p.m., Pacific daylight time, on Friday, September 12, 2008, westbound Southern California Regional Rail Authority Metrolink train 111, consisting of one locomotive and three passenger cars, collided head-on with eastbound Union Pacific Railroad freight train LOF65–12 near Chatsworth, California. The Metrolink train derailed its locomotive and lead passenger car; the UP train derailed its 2 locomotives and 10 of its 17 cars. The force of the collision caused the locomotive of train 111 to telescope into the lead passenger coach by about 52 feet. The accident resulted in 25 fatalities, including the engineer of train 111. Emergency response agencies reported transporting 102 injured passengers to local hospitals. Damages were estimated to be in excess of $12 million.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the September 12, 2008, collision of a Metrolink commuter train and a Union Pacific freight train was the failure of the Metrolink engineer to observe and appropriately respond to the red signal aspect at Control Point Topanga because he was engaged in prohibited use of a wireless device, specifically text messaging, that distracted him from his duties. Contributing to the accident was the lack of a positive train control system that would have stopped the Metrolink train short of the red signal and thus prevented the collision.
The safety issues identified during this accident investigation are as follows:
- Inadequate capability, because of the privacy offered by a locomotive operating compartment, for management to monitor crewmember adherence to operating rules such as those regarding the use of wireless devices or the presence of unauthorized persons in the operating compartment.
- Lack of a positive train control system on the Metrolink rail system.
As a result of its investigation of this accident, the National Transportation Safety Board makes recommendations to the Federal Railroad Administration.