RIALTO -- A federal investigator says a Metrolink commuter train ran a red signal before sideswiping a freight train that was easing onto a side track in Rialto.
National Transportation Safety Board officials say the eastbound passenger train failed to stop Thursday at a red light about 150 feet before the spot where it hit the rear cars of an oncoming westbound freight train.
The red signal appears to have been working. Investigators are now focusing on whether the passenger train had
braking problems. Metrolink engineers had apparently been attempting
to stop the train.
No serious injuries were reported.
Eastbound Metrolink train No. 306 collided with a westbound Burlington Northern Santa Fe freight train around 11:30 a.m. Thursday after departing from Union Station in downtown Los Angeles nearly an hour and a half earlier.
The trains sideswiped each other near the Rialto station. Both trains remained upright and on the tracks following the low speed collision, Metrolink officials said.
There were 15 people on the Metrolink train and three on
the freight train, according to Metrolink spokeswoman Joanna Capelle.
Four passengers were taken to the hospital with minor
injuries, Capelle said.
Metrolink service on the San Bernardino line was disrupted for more than eight hours while crews worked to remove the trains.
Safety measures to avoid such accidents were fast-tracked in recent months in the wake of another Metrolink-on-freight train wreck that killed 25 people and injured 135 others in Chatsworth.
That wreck, which occurred on Sept. 12, was a head-on collision, while Thursday's crash was a side collision, in which one of the trains was transitioning off a track the other train was already on, Capelle said.
The deadly crash was blamed on the failure of the Metrolink engineer to stop at a red light to allow the on-coming freight train to pass.
It was not immediately known whether the Metrolink engineer in Thursday's collision missed a signal.
Following the Chatsworth wreck, Metrolink officials began doubling-up the staff in many of their locomotives and authorized millions of dollars in safety upgrades.
The Metrolink train involved in Thursday's crash did have two crew members in the locomotive, contrary to an earlier report from a Metrolink official, the agency said.