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Local train safety discussed

Safety was top of mind after the Spain accident as a new rail authority met in Fresno on Friday.
Train travel is back up in the area of Spain where a derailment killed at least 78 people, including one America.  Meanwhile, locally, a new group is overseeing rail systems to improve travel in the region.  The San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority met in Fresno today.  It's talking about how to make routes more efficient and increase connectivity.  Amtrak leaders are also trying to figure out if there's anything to learn from the disaster in Spain.

Mike Hicks leaves the Fresno Amtrak station, glad his first train ride went smoothly.  The images of a deadly train accident in Spain two days ago were still fresh in his mind.

“I seen it, then I had to get on this one and I'm like, ‘Oh my.’ I just prayed to God it didn't happen to me,” said Mike Hicks, a train passenger.

According to Amtrak, the central valley is the fifth busiest rail region in the entire country.  The Chief of Government Affairs says it's keeping an eye on the situation in Spain.

“We'll work with the safety agencies, the Federal Railroad Administration, and others, to ensure if there's anything to be learned from Spain, that we implement those lessons,” said Amtrak’s Ray Lang.

The San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority met in Fresno Friday.  It's a new group that will manage local train service, taking over for Cal Trans.

“Our goal with the San Joaquin Valley rail system is to make it as efficient as we can and connect it to more spots along the state corridor,” said Fresno County Supervisor Henry Perea, who’s serving as vice chair.

Passengers like Hicks want fewer stops and faster trips, as long as the commute remains safe.  Amtrak says passenger train travel is still the safest mode of transportation in the world.

“I'm comfortable with it.  That was just an accident that happened. You can't predict accidents,” said Hicks.

At the meeting on Friday, San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission was selected to be the operational manager.

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