RailPAC President writes CPUC re Sprinter

Mr. Michael R. Peevey 8th April, 2013
California Public Utilities Commission
505 Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco CA 94102
Dear President Peevey:

The Rail Passenger Association of California is a non-profit, 501c3 California Corporation active since 1977 in promoting passenger rail.

I am writing to request that you initiate a thorough inquiry into the competence of North County Transit District to operate this rail transit service and the “Coaster” commuter line. On or about March 7th of this year CPUC inspectors found fault with the brakes on the Sprinter trains and within 24 hours the system was shut down. The management of NCTD has blamed an individual maintenance manager and the sub-contractor for failing to report the problem.

I find it very hard to believe that the public is being told all the facts. If, as seems highly unlikely, one individual had knowledge of this safety issue and did nothing about it, why were there no checks and balances in place? NCTD claims that they have plenty of funds in hand and have not diverted money from maintenance to other items. If that is the case, how can something as basic as worn out brakes be overlooked?

Our members and the public at large are entitled to know that the trains that we ride are properly maintained and that procedures are in place to ensure that maintenance of brakes and other safety systems are subject to the review of the senior management of the agency. This does not appear to be the case at NCTD.
RailPAC is looking to the CPUC to use its resources and expertise to review all the documents and correspondence between all the parties involved to find out the truth as to why NCTD had to take the extreme step of shutting down this important service under emergency conditions. The action by NCTD has severely shaken the confidence of the traveling public in the safety of “Sprinter” and passenger rail in general. After a long and slow recovery from the Glendale and Chatsworth accidents on the Metrolink system the last thing we need is for further questioning of the competence of rail passenger management. Only a thoroughgoing public examination of the facts will be satisfactory.

Yours faithfully,
Paul J. Dyson

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