Metrolink Chief Executive David Solow, at a press conference
Friday morning, defended his agency's practice of leading trains with
cab cars and having locomotives chugging from behind. He called it
the best way to run the Southern California rail line.
"Our position of the cab car-forward operation is a safe
operation," Solow said. "It is common in the U.S., common in Canada
and common around the world."
But the cab car that led that train caught on Juan Alvarez's Grand
Jeep Cherokee, and the middle cars were smashed in an accordion
effect by the locomotive that was still pushing in the rear, said
Timothy Smith, the state legislative chairman for the Brotherhood of
Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen.
Smith believes if the locomotive was instead pulling in the front,
the collision that became the worst disaster in Metrolink's history
might have been avoided.
"The heavier locomotive, more times than not, shoves the obstacle,
whereas a cab car will more than likely derail," he said.
Solow said all the rail line's equipment was working as intended,
and the train crew was properly operating the machinery.
Glendale Police, the lead investigative agency, does not fault
Metrolink equipment or the operators for the disaster, said Sgt. Tom
Lorenz, the department's spokesman.
"Investigators very strongly believe that Juan Manuel Alvarez
deliberately placed his vehicle on track with the intention of
causing a catastrophic event," Lorenz said.
Solow also plans to push for federal funding to replace
high-traffic grade crossings with bridges or underpasses.
He added that Southern California has more grade crossings and
nearby traffic than the East Coast.