SEPTA's safety in wake of DC Metro crash

June 24, 2009 5:00:33 AM PDT
Could the same kind of accident happen on Septa?Thousands of times a day people get on and off SEPTA's mass transit lines and rarely worry about safety.

"I took it for granted it would be a safe, secure ride."

At SEPTA's state of the art control center safety is always a concern.

There are significant differences between Metro and SEPTA. SEPTA operators actually control stopping and starting the trains. In Washington, computers normally do those tasks. The operator's main job is to open and close the doors and respond to emergencies.

But both systems use a network of fail safe devices to prevent trains from ending up on the same stretch or block of track. Should a train get too close to another train or travel too fast, automatic systems are designed to step in and force an emergency stop.

Properly operating automated systems should have prevented a collision like the one in Washington. Metro's highly automated system has been questioned before. It's reported in June 2005 a Metro operator noticed he was getting close to a train in front of him, even though the computerized system showed the track was clear, the operator overrode the computer and hit an emergency brake.

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