Saturday, December 5, 2009

Phoenix At-Grade Rail Accidents Invite Scrutiny; Year-Old System’s Rate Is One Crash per Week

Phoenix light rail system officials, the media and the public all are wondering how to curb the incidence of weekly crashes involving trains and vehicles.
Van begins fateful turn across tracks.
An accident this week that wrapped a van around a utility pole and narrowly avoided a fatality was caused by the van making an illegal turn in front of a moving train. A firefighter said the driver was “a lucky lady to be alive.” On-board train video shows the moment of impact as the van turns into the train’s path.
Vehicle pulls into harm's way.
Wednesday’s smash-up was the 51st this year for the Phoenix system, according to local media, and questions are now being asked about why a modern at-grade rail system has been so accident-plagued in its first year of operation.

It’s Not Surprising

As we’ve said here repeatedly, whenever you put trucks, cars, buses and pedestrians on the same level as a train, you’re virtually guaranteed to have accidents. Advocates of at-grade rail in Honolulu persistently refuse to address this issue, while we elevated advocates won’t let it die.
The moment of impact.
Trains operating on Honolulu’s 20 miles of elevated track will encounter no trucks, cars, buses and pedestrians. Putting any of those miles at grade would inevitably produce accidents like Phoenix is experiencing, and because Honolulu is such a compact and condensed city, the incidence could be even greater.
The van already is being wrapped around the pole.
Honolulu and Phoenix don’t have much in common, and we’ll be better off when we keep it that way regarding our rail systems.
Driver is lucky to be alive, says a firefighter.

1 comment:

Hannah Miyamoto said...

If the overhead caternary support poles are 150 feet apart, it took that train about 300 feet to stop. It must have been going about 35 mph, since it seems to be at its cruising speed when the van hit it.