Just over a decade ago, the Southern California Regional Railroad Association (SCRRA) and Metrolink announced their plans to double track the railroad right-of-way through rural Chatsworth. Chatsworth's equestrians voiced their opposition, but the SCRRA did exactly what it had planned, with no regard for our concerns. At the time I warned that those double tracks would cause an accident and somebody would get killed.
Then on Friday, September 12, 2008, in Chatsworth, a Metrolink engineer failed to obey a signal light that caused a deadly head-on collision with a Union Pacific freight train. The wreck claimed 25 lives, injured 135 others, and resulted in financial losses in excess of $7,000,000. The following poem was my warning eight years earlier:
"Workin' out the Kinks" by Jerry England © 2000
She toots her horn and goes by in a wink,
This new iron horse called Metrolink.
Runs next to our trail, making noise and dirt
An' I can't get my pony near it, even with a quirt.
Now railroads are nothing new to the West,
At wiping out buffalo and Indians they are best.
Rail barons and politicians, they all got wealthy
but for you and me, trains were never healthy.
An outfit called the SCRRA, without a bit of tack,
Has announced it's gotta add a second track.
New ties and rails just ten feet from our trail
“We'll even add a concrete wall too,” they regale.
Now picture my old horse down in this concrete ditch
A big locomotive over his head coming off the switch
Rails squealing, horn screaming, and horse bucking as we fall
It'll sure be a wreck when my head crashes into that wall.
The SCRRA doesn't give a hoot for my horse’s safety or me
Our trail will be lost and maybe a few lives, too, don't you see.
But you know they’re gonna have that second railroad track
Just so they can take a few more folks to work and back.
It’s interesting to look back at the history of the railroad
The first trains were pulled by horses, I've been told.
Our riding trail will be lost for lack of safety and use,
An’ Metrolink will continue its history of public abuse.
© Jerry England 2000
Another tragedy -- Horse and rider killed by Metrolink train
From KABC News, February 11, 2011, Sun Valley, CA: A horse and rider were killed Friday afternoon by a Metrolink train in Sun Valley, Los Angeles. The horse and rider were on the tracks near San Fernando Road and Sheldon Street when the train hit them shortly before 4 p.m. Los Angeles City Firefighters say the 38-year-old man and his horse died at the scene.