An accident involving two light rail trains in San Francisco has injured over 40 people, causing delays for the entire six line light rail system. This accident happened at West Portal Station, which serves four of the light rail routes in San Francisco. This is one of the largest light rail accidents in recent history, though less tragic than the Metro accident that claimed 7 lives in Washington, D.C several weeks ago. At this point, it is not known whether it is a mechanical failure or human error, but what is known is that accidents can also happen on light rail systems. This is just one more point for why the rapid transit rail extension to UBC must be built as a SkyTrain extension of the Millennium Line to prevent such accidents from occuring. SkyTrain uses a rolling block signal system which allows it to operate high train frequencies safely. In its 23-year history, there has not been any major accidents with SkyTrain because of the reliability of the computer system with SkyTrain. Should there ever be even the tiniest glitch in driverless operations, the entire SkyTrain system will be automatically shut down trains for manual inspection of problems..
Scores injured in San Francisco light-rail crash
The Associated Press
More than 40 people were taken to hospital after one light rail commuter train rear-ended another in San Francisco on Saturday, officials said.
Reuters reported that four people were in critical condition.
The San Francisco Municipal Railway L train ran into a K train at the boarding platform about 2:30 p.m. PT, officials said.
“This is probably one of the largest multiple-casualty incidents in recent years (in San Francisco),” said Pat Gardner, a deputy chief with the San Francisco Fire Department.
Gardner said 20 people suffered moderate injuries and another 21 were “walking wounded.”
Witnesses said the westbound L train barreled into the K train as it emerged from a tunnel connecting downtown San Francisco to the city’s western neighborhoods.
Judson True, a spokesman for the San Francisco Municipal Railway, said investigators were looking into “mechanical and human issues” that may have contributed to the accident.
Driver suffered serious injuries
The front of the L train was smashed and its operator was among the three with serious injuries. The K train suffered less damage, witnesses said.
They reported that more than a dozen people sat on benches along the boarding platform after the crash, some of them holding bloodied heads.
Rescue workers set up a triage system to isolate the most severely injured, bandaging their heads and immobilizing their necks on stretchers before they were trundled to waiting emergency vehicles.
“We thought a bomb went off,” said Mike Burke, a San Francisco banker who lives near the crash site.
“Lots of people (in the trains) were still sitting in their seats with their heads thrown back, stunned,” said his wife, Linda Burke.
Nine people were killed and more than 70 injured June 22 when a Metro train slammed into another train stopped on the tracks in Washington, D.C. The cause has not been determined but investigators say equipment that is supposed to detect stopped trains had failed periodically in the days leading up to the crash.
On May 8, more than 50 people were injured when a Boston subway trolley plowed into another train. Authorities say operator Aiden Quinn, 24, went through a red signal while typing a text message on his cellphone. Quinn was indicted on charges of grossly negligent operation and was scheduled to be arraigned Monday in Suffolk Superior Court. He faces three years in prison if convicted.