RTD pins September R Line derailment on the train operator speeding
The Regional Transportation District’s R Line light-rail train through Aurora will finally resume full service on Tuesday, more than two months after a derailment left three people hospitalized and shut down a four-mile section of the line.
In documents released last week, RTD blamed the train operator for speeding and the subsequent derailment on Sept. 21. The train was traveling at 38.8 mph just before reaching a 10 mph curve, RTD said.
“Inattention by the operator and failure to operate the train in accordance with established rules by allowing the train to exceed the maximum posted track speed,” the agency said.
The agency has completed repairs and made a handful of safety improvements, including requiring drivers to stop before proceeding through the intersection. All light-rail operators have also received additional training meant to curb speeding, the agency said. A system that would prevent speeding altogether would cost between $91 million and $224 million, a recent RTD-commissioned study says.
The September derailment was the second at the intersection of South Sable Boulevard and East Exposition Avenue. The first, in 2019, resulted in a woman’s leg being severed. RTD also blamed operator error for that derailment, though a union steward and driver said recently that multiple derailments at the same spot suggest a design flaw.
RTD filed its “corrective action plans” for the latest derailment with its light-rail safety regulator, the state Public Utilities Commission, in early November. But the PUC kept them secret until last week. It now says publishing the documents “will better enable review and discussion.”
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