"I think it's really one step in addressing California's shameful
record on rail safety," he said.
Frommer was spurred into action after the Jan. 26 derailment, in
which Juan Manuel Alvarez allegedly parked his 1993 Jeep Cherokee on
the train tracks near Chevy Chase Drive, causing the three-train
wreck that killed 11 people and injured nearly 200 others.
"The genesis of it was the terrible accident that happened in
Glendale," Frommer said. "I'm hoping [the bill] will deter behavior
like what we saw in January."
It is already a crime to enter a railroad track and block a train,
but the bill would introduce an additional circumstance for those who
recklessly or willfully obstructs a railroad crossing and cause
damage, derailment or injuries to passengers or railroad employees,
In addition to state prison, the bill would call for fines of up
to $2,500 for violators, which would almost double the existing
penalty, he said.
"Rail safety is a key ingredient to the safety of not only
passengers, but to police and fire," Glendale Fire Chief Mike Haney
said. "The tragic Metrolink disaster on Jan. 26 is an example of how
we need to protect the crossing and the rails so people can have
confidence in their travels."
Frommer is confident in the bill's passage and hopes it will deter
people from acting in ways that cause accidents, such as rushing
across tracks to beat a train.
"There are always lots of lights and plenty of signs to stay out
of rail lines," said Glendale City Councilman Bob Yousefian. "But
they don't pay attention and consequently you get tragedies like what
happened last year where 11 people perished. I hope the governor
If Schwarzenegger signs the bill, all money received from penalty
fees will be used for education on railway safety and law enforcement
preparedness in the event of a railroad accident, Frommer said.
"In today's environment, people use railways for safety and for
their own protection to and from work, so anyway we can make railways
safer for the general public, we're all in favor it of it," Haney
said. "It's extremely important for the city of Glendale to be
confident that its railways are free of obstruction and that there
are no more disasters in the city limits."
Gov. Schwarzenegger has until Oct. 9 to sign the bill into law.