It is reassuring that U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein is very much involved in improving the deplorable conditions that existed and currently exist in the Metrolink commuter train system.
I hope she continues to insist on true improvements and not just cosmetic, unsatisfactory minor fixes. Twenty-five people were killed in the Chattsworth crash, and scores seriously injured. Comprehensive safety changes need to be proposed, reviewed and implemented in a logical and technically feasible manner, without any bureaucratic delays and excuses.
According to "The Los Angeles Times", one of Metrolink's own proposals is to add onboard video surveillance to the engineer's quarters. This proposal has received criticism from train employees and with skepticism from Senator Feinstein.
The employees are concerned about privacy issues, and that the cameras would be used to punish employees for minor infractions. Senator Feinstein's position is that just adding cameras would not necessarily prevent a collision which is seconds away from occurring. Sen. Feinstein also wants to ensure that adding cameras would not be used as a substitute for adding a second engineer.
While there are no easy solutions, one thing is certain. Steps must be taken, and soon. Because the clock is ticking and it is only a matter of time before another Metrolink tragedy could occur -- taking the lives of innocent commuters and causing untold grief and financial hardships to their families.
I feel there is certainly a place for video camera surveillance. Yes, there are privacy considerations for the engineers. But we are talking about a train carrying hundreds of passengers, and if adding a video camera can help in any way I am all for exploring ways to use that technology. I totally support Senator Feinstein in her demand that a second engineer be added. Airlines have co-pilots, and trains often carry more passengers than airplanes. If it means increasing the cost of a Metrolink ticket, I am sure the passengers would be willing to pay the increase, considering the potential consequences of another crash that could have been prevented.
There are some exciting technologies on the horizon for further protecting trains, including a satellite system that would actually stop a train that runs a red light or is on a collision course with another train. However in the meantime there are immediate steps that need to be taken. It's been three months since the September Metrolink tragedy. Now is the time for action, not excuses.