Times Gives Metrolink’s Safety Record an In-Depth Critique

Last week, the Times took a close look at the Metrolink rail system to zero in on how the embattled agency is doing when it comes to improving safety for passengers and the drivers and pedestrians that cross the tracks.  Their results?  Over a year after a crash that killed 25 people when a freight train and a Metrolink train collided head-on, the agency still isn't making the grade.

However, the Times' article, entitled Death on the Rails in L.A., focuses more on the deadly state of Metrolink's rail crossings, noting:

Over the 15 years leading up to the deadly crash in Chatsworth, accidents involving trains running on Metrolink's system killed 218 other people, according to a detailed examination of accident records by The Times. Through September 2008, the number killed on the Metrolink commuter rail system was 244. Hundreds more people sustained nonfatal injuries.

While I've been as hard on L.A.'s paper of record as the next person, this time the Times is doing a great job bringing the story of dangerous crossings home to anyone that lives near Metrolink tracks.  In addition to the feature story, they've opened an interactive website all about Metrolink and safety that features videos, an interactive map showing the dangerous record of each crossing and animations showing how some of these crashes are occurring.

If I had to pick a nit with any part of the Times' coverage, it would have to be with the narrative in the main article that can be summarized as "Metrolink bad, Metro good."  Metro's record on safe rail crossings, while not as bad as Metrolink's, is hardly stellar.  Here's to hoping that this approach isn't a one time issue and we can see more of this style of reporting on not just rail safety, but on dangerous street intersections throughout L.A. County.