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SAN DIEGO COUNTY PERSPECTIVE : A Call for Compassion and Safety

The deaths of two commuters at the Del Mar train station last week were accidents just waiting to happen.

The aging station was designed for leisurely tourist travel. Now it is heavily used by Los Angeles-bound commuters, many of whom have to cross the tracks from one of two nearby parking lots--an inherently risky layout that encourages using shortcuts.

There’s a sanctioned--and safer--place to walk across the tracks 25 yards away, where lights signal the trains’ arrivals. Using it is a common- sense prescription indeed.

But the station’s daily use is incompatible with its design.

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Even when the dangerous shortcut at Del Mar is fenced off, commuters will still have to cross the tracks. And once the memories of Usha Waney and Roberta Halpern fade, many will make the dash. Amtrak calls these two women “trespassers.” A more compassionate company would view them as victims.

San Diego and Del Mar are the only stations along the route to Los Angeles where regularly used parking lots are located across the tracks. This should change in 1992, when a new Solana Beach station will replace the Del Mar stop.

It’s probably not practical to expect Amtrak to build a temporary overpass or underpass. But it is not unreasonable to expect the company to put up signs and look for other ways to help the passengers on one of its busiest routes.


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