Train design that can save lives still rarely used; Southern California crash shows benefits

IndustriesAssociated Press

Technology that can blunt the tremendous force of a head-on collision appears to have paid off in the remarkably low number of serious injuries suffered when a Southern California commuter train slammed into a truck abandoned on the tracks.

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And yet very few commuter train systems in the U.S. have this "crash energy management" technology.

Metrolink began investing heavily in new passenger cars with the technology after a 2005 crash that killed 11 people. Three of the four cars in Tuesday's accident had the new design, which disperses the energy of a crash away from where the passengers sit.

For years, federal regulators have weighed rules that might require such technology. But they have not formally proposed such measures.