blog home Train Accident Is the Amtrak Surfliner a Danger to Santa Barbara Residents?

By Renee Nordstrand on March 31, 2018

public transit train racing down the track

Though the Amtrak Surfliner does not pose an immediate threat to people in Santa Barbara, the high number of train derailments across the United States in recent years is cause for concern. Some of these crashes occurred through no distinguishable fault of anyone involved and were simply tragic accidents. Others seem to have been due to negligence: inattentive engineers and conductors letting their trains run far too fast in certain areas.

Such an accident on the Surfliner could be catastrophic, not only for passengers but also for those who live nearby.

Recent Amtrak Crashes

The collision between two trains in South Carolina in the early morning of February 4, 2018, which killed two people and left more than 100 injured, has a lot of people worried about the safety of modern passenger trains. This crash is even more disturbing as it is just one in what seems to be a series of crashes involving Amtrak trains over the last few years. Other accidents include:

  • January 31, 2018 – Virginia: A train struck a garbage truck on a railroad crossing, killing one person and injuring six more.
  • December 18, 2017 – Washington State: A train derailed while traveling more than twice the posted speed, killing three people and injuring 70 more.
  • April 3, 2016 – Pennsylvania: A train partially derailed after striking a backhoe on the tracks, killing two and injuring more than 30 passengers.
  • March 14, 2016 – Kansas: A train derailed after a truck hit the track and shifted it about a foot, injuring more than 30 people.
  • May 12, 2015 – Pennsylvania: A train derailed while traveling more than twice the posted speed, killing eight people and injuring more than 200.

A “Weak Safety Culture”

The term “weak safety culture” was used by investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) after investigating the April 3rd, 2016, accident in Pennsylvania. They were talking about certain employees within Amtrak who frequently took shortcuts while on the job and placed more importance on being on time than on keeping their passengers safe. It is alarming to imagine railroad workers sacrificing safety for the sake of arrival times, but crashes in the past have demonstrated such behavior.

The Surfliner and Santa Barbara

The Pacific Surfliner is an Amtrak line that offers daily service to numerous California cities, including San Diego, Los Angeles, and Santa Barbara. A derailment of the Surfliner would likely be catastrophic for many of its passengers, and could seriously injure others nearby in Santa Barbara. While the Surfliner has not been involved in any serious accidents, caution should be taken by anyone on or near the passenger train.

If you or someone you know has been seriously injured by a train, please call NordstrandBlack PC today at (805) 962-2022 for a free consultation.

Posted in: Train Accident