The Glendale Metrolink train crash took place after a man left his SUV on the tracks in a botched suicide attempt. The Metrolink train was in the push position of its push-pull system, meaning that the locomotive was at the rear of the train and a passenger car, filled with people, was at the front. When the unprotected passenger car struck the abandoned vehicle, it crumpled on impact and prompted the train derailment. The train then jackknifed and struck two other nearby trains, one a stationary freight train and the other a passing northbound train, which subsequently, also derailed its rear cars. In total, there were 11 deaths and 177 injuries reported. This train crash spurred the debate on the efficacy of the push-pull configuration and led to Metrolink no longer allowing passengers to sit in the first car of a train, often called a “coffin car,” if it is being pushed. Our firm handled the cases of 16 passengers, both injured and killed, in this train crash.
Our firm has long advocated the idea that a push-pull system is inherently unsafe, creating a situation that is basically a train wreck waiting to happen. In our commitment to eradicating this dangerous system, one of our attorneys, Paul Hedlund, also a mechanical engineer, testified before the California State Assembly which was convened to investigate rail safety concerns and the dangers of pushing passenger trains, in addition to passenger train crash worthiness. Mr. Hedlund explained the many problems with pushing the far lighter and less crashworthy passenger cars in front of the heavier and sturdier locomotive. We believe that most, if not all, of the deaths and serious injuries that were received in this train accident could have been prevented if the passengers had been pulled behind the protective locomotive.