Train safety pushed year after crash

first_imgGLENDALE – Nearly a year after a horrific Metrolink crash killed 11 people and injured nearly 200, a state Assembly committee on rail safety called Wednesday for a ban on the controversial “push-pull” running of trains – where the engine pushes trains from behind – which critics decry as unsafe. Flanked by families of victims from the Jan. 26 crash, Assemblyman Dario Frommer, D-Glendale, released the committee’s report and proposed a three-year phase-out of push-pull operations on Metrolink and three other commuter lines in California. Frommer said if the rail operators don’t voluntarily comply, he’ll seek legislation this session to impose the ban. “This is going to be a fight,” said Frommer, the safety committee chairman, after a morning press conference near the crash site in his Glendale district. But Metrolink attacked the proposals as unrealistic, while officials of other commuter lines said they cannot afford a $3 million locomotive for each train or to purchase land for a turn-around yard with the high cost of California real estate. Plus, they maintain, evidence shows push operations are safe. “We think he’s wrong. We don’t think he has the science behind him,” said Metrolink spokeswoman Denise Tyrrell. “These alternatives they mention are not rational alternatives. They’re not realistic financially. They’re not realistic physically. And they won’t deliver what’s promised.” Metrolink instead is focused on new technology to reduce the serious impact of crashes, and will be the first in the nation to outfit its cab cars – the lead car when the train is in the push mode – under a massive procurement being carried out to replace its 40 cab cars this year. “We’ve operated in the push-pull mode from our inception,” Tyrrell said. “We have faith in it, believe in it, ride it ourselves.” Along with Metrolink, the proposed ban would apply to Caltrain, the Coaster train in northern San Diego County and the Altamont Commuter Express. “The expense is egregious,” said Jonah Weinberg, a spokesman for Caltrain, which operates between San Jose and San Francisco. “The millions of millions of dollars that would be spent on putting in two engines would not allow us to pursue these other things like grade separation, fencing off the corridors.” The report from the Assembly Special Committee on Rail Safety also called for additional safety measures, such as better crossing gates, a track warning system to alert conductors of problems on the tracks and immediate action to prevent passengers from sitting in the cab cars. Metrolink and other lines have roped off some rows of the cab cars already. Frommer also said he would try to get $500 million for grade-separation projects statewide into Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s vast infrastructure proposal that is being considered this year in Sacramento. He blasted the state for funding grade separations at the same low level for the past 30 years, saying that at that rate it would take 2,500 years to grade-separate the most dangerous crossings. But the prohibition against push-pull was the committee’s key finding, and came after months of investigation and a public hearing after last year’s crash. Banning push-pull could face legal obstacles because the Federal Railroad Administration historically has authority over train operations nationwide, and it believes push-pull is safe. However, Frommer was confident that the state has the authority to prohibit the operation, and the report cites several legal cases in which local powers have been able to pre-empt the federal regulation. A spokesman for the FRA said Wednesday that commuter lines are welcome to do away with push-pull, but that the federal government is not stepping in to mandate it. “The data that has been accumulated does not suggest the need for us, the federal government, to take action in that regard,” said FRA spokesman Steve Kulm. “It has been safe, and it is safe, and we’re working to make it safer.” But family members of those lost in the crash say the authorities have not done enough to protect passengers, and they want an end to what they see as a dangerous push-pull operation. Lien Wiley, whose husband, Don, was on the southbound train headed to work that morning, hopes the practice will be changed. She said the past year has been difficult as she still can’t believe her husband of 12 years is gone. “I still cry every day,” said the Simi Valley resident. “Every day, every afternoon, I still listen to the garage door and wait for him to come home. I still can’t believe he’s never coming home again. “The government fell asleep at the wheel. The government’s supposed to regulate them and monitor them,” she said. “I will never forgive myself if I don’t do something.” Lisa Mascaro, (818) 713-3761 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card “There is no doubt in my mind that the push-pull configuration is a killer and one that needs to be outlawed in California,” he said. Injured passengers have filed lawsuits claiming Metrolink was negligent for operating the push-pull system, in which a locomotive pushes lighter cars ahead of it one way and pulls them on the return. “There are allegations that pushed trains are more likely to derail because the lighter passenger cabs in the front can be pushed off the tracks more easily,” the state report said. The practice has come under increased scrutiny since last year’s crash, the worst in Metrolink’s history, when a train in the push mode crashed into a sport utility vehicle parked on the tracks, then collided with an oncoming train and a parked train. A despondent handyman who parked his SUV on the tracks has pleaded not guilty to murder charges. Frommer said it’s up to train operators to determine an alternative mode, but the report suggested using a second locomotive, a turn-around yard at the end of each line or a so-called “cabbage car” – a locomotive filled with heavy materials such as lead or ballast to make it less susceptible to derailing or crushing. last_img read more

Drunk Donegal taxi driver caught FOUR times over the limit

first_imgGardaí arrested a taxi driver in Buncrana last night who was drunk driving at a shocking four times over the legal limit.The dangerous driver also had a paying customer onboard.The frightening incident took place on Wednesday night when Gardaí spotted a car being driven erratically in Buncrana town centre. The vehicle was stopped, and tests revealed that the driver was four times over the legal drink driving limit while working.Gardaí say they were shocked to learn that the man had a paying customer in the car at the time of the incident.The taxi driver was subsequently arrested and charged. He is due to appear in court at a future date.Drunk Donegal taxi driver caught FOUR times over the limit was last modified: November 1st, 2019 by Rachel McLaughlinShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Budget 2015: South Africa raises income tax

first_imgSouth African taxpayers will be paying more taxes on their personal incomes to help the government raise revenue.Citizens in the lowest income bracket – that is, those who earn less than R181 900 a year – will be spared from tax increases. (Image: The South African)Brand South Africa ReporterSouth African taxpayers will be paying more taxes on their personal incomes to help the government raise revenue, Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene told Parliament during his 2015 Budget speech on Wednesday.Taxpayers will pay an extra percentage point more personal income tax to enable the government to raise an extra R12-billion this year, and another R15-billion in 2016.Download the Treasury’s People’s Guide to the Budget [PDF]The government will also increase fuel levies by 80.5c per litre from 1 April – 30.5c of this is an increase in the general fuel levy while 50c is for the Road Accident Fund.According to the National Treasury, South Africa’s fuel levies are comparatively low by international standards, and the recent decline in fuel prices creates space for an increase.Citizens in the lowest income bracket – that is, those who earn less than R181 900 a year – will be spared from tax increases.“Leaving aside other adjustments, the rate changes will result in individuals with an annual taxable income of R200 000 a year paying about R21 more in monthly taxes.“Those earning R500 000 will pay an extra R271 per month; and those earning R1.5 million will pay an extra R1 105 each month,” the National Treasury said.Nene said the tax proposals were aimed at increasing tax revenues, limiting the “erosion of the corporate tax base”, increasing incentives for small businesses, and promoting a greener economy.“However, tax brackets, rebates and medical-scheme contribution credits will be adjusted for inflation, as in previous years. The net effect is that there will be tax relief below about R450 000 a year, while those with higher incomes will pay more in tax.“In essence, government aims to narrow the budget deficit, stabilise debt and begin to rebuild the fiscal space,” he said.A combination of a lower expenditure ceiling and higher taxes will narrow the budget deficit to 2.5% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2017/18, the National Treasury said.“The 2015 Budget tax proposals are expected to add R16.8 billion to revenue in the next year, before accounting for fiscal drag, and carry forward over subsequent years.”Closing the gapSA’s Treasury said the additional revenue would help to close the gap in the public finances over the medium term.Beyond that, several long-term policy objectives, including national health insurance and expanding the post-school education system, imply permanent spending increases that cannot be financed from existing levels of revenue.The department also said that South Africans needed to consider and debate the adjustments required to create room for these progressive spending policies.“The impact of any proposed measures on employment and the cost of labour, as well as the long-term growth of the economy, needs to be taken into account,” the National Treasury said.Electricity supplyNene also introduced several tax measures aimed at promoting energy efficiency and helping power utility Eskom keep a stable supply.Nene said he would introduce a temporary increase in the electricity levy, to 5.5c per kilowatt hour (kWh) from 3.5c/kWh, which would be withdrawn when the electricity shortage was over.“In the absence of a carbon tax, the electricity levy serves both to promote energy efficiency and encourage lower greenhouse gas emissions,” Nene said. A carbon tax would be introduced in 2016, he said.The government was also considering a levy on intensive consumers and exporters of electricity – those using in excess of 800 000 megawatt hours a year – in a bid to close gaps favouring them, the National Treasury said.Other Budget 2015 highlightsOver R640-billion will be allocated to basic education over the next three years, to be spent on teacher training, workbooks and infrastructure backlogs.Nene announced an additional R7.1-billion allocation to the Social Development vote to accommodate an increase in the number of beneficiaries and to protect the poorest households against poverty.The transfer duties for the sale of properties are to be adjusted. “The new rates eliminate transfer duty on properties below R750 000, while the rate on properties above R2.25-million will increase,” said Nene.A “more generous tax regime” is proposed for businesses with a turnover below R1- million a year. Qualifying businesses with a turnover of less than R335 000 a year will pay no tax. The maximum tax rate has also been reduced from 6% to 3%.Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.last_img read more

Patna HC pulls up CBI in shelter home case

first_imgThe Patna High Court on Thursday pulled up the CBI, which is probing the Muzaffarpur shelter home rape case, for its failure to submit the status report. The court also asked the agency how information related to the case leaked to the media and why an SP-rank officer, who was part of the investigation, was transferred.The Patna High Court is monitoring the case relating to the sexual abuse of 34 girls at the shelter home. It fixed August 27 as the next date of hearing. In its previous order of August 6, the court had directed the CBI to appear before the court through a counsel and submit a report on the status of the investigation.A Division Bench of the court, comprising Chief Justice Mukesh R. Shah and Justice Ravi Ranjan, on Thursday asked the agency why the status report was not being submitted. It also asked the CBI to submit to the court in a sealed envelope the reason for transferring its Superintendent of Police J.P. Mishra. The officer was transferred on Tuesday. Order for mediaThe court asked the media to refrain from publishing details of the investigation as it could affect the probe. The director of the State Social Welfare Department, Raj Kumar, sent a letter to the Information and Public Relations Department asking it to ensure that “no information related to the Muzaffarpur shelter home rape case and its investigation is published in the media”.The Opposition parties in the State have questioned the transfer of the SP alleging that it would adversely affect the probe. “So after Bihar Governor, CM Nitish also got CBI SP transferred. Tomorrow he would have submitted progress report on Muzaffarpur shelter home mass rape case in High Court. The investigation was reaching to “Patna Sir” mentioned in Brajesh Thakur diary. Chacha [uncle], wait and watch, who’s he?” tweeted Leader of the Opposition in Assembly Tejashwi Yadav.last_img read more

Athawale to meet CM over lack of security

first_imgA day after Union Minister of State for Social Justice Ramdas Athawale was slapped by a man in Ambernath, the Minister on Sunday said someone jealous of his growing popularity might have conspired against him.“I am a popular leader and [I] have no enmity with anyone. This might have been done at the behest of someone who is angry with me over something,” Mr. Athawali, president of the Republican Party of India-Athawale group (RPI-A), told reporters. The Minister also said security arrangements at the programme were not adequate. “Even when I was going to sit in my vehicle, I was not given security by the police station concerned. I will meet Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, and this incident should be investigated,” he said.Condemning the attack on Mr. Athawale, members of the RPI (A) staged protests in Ambernath, and in several localities in Mumbai, on Sunday. Pravin Gosavi, a former member of the RPI(A), slapped Mr. Athawale at an event in Ambernath on Saturday night, after reportedly approaching the Minister to get a picture clicked. He was beaten up by RPI(A) supporters.last_img read more

Wilmington OBITUARIES Week of February 17 2019

first_imgWILMINGTON, MA — Here are the obituaries published on Wilmington Apple during the week of February 17, 2019:Lived In Wilmington At Time Of Passing:Robert M. Ford, 91Stephen M. “Stunch” Johnson, 61Richard J. Lavoie, 85Ronald D. “Herman” Sullivan, 71Francis D. Walsh, 94Previously Lived In Wilmington:Michael A. Graves, 49Estelle May McLaughlin, 74Worked In/Volunteered In/Connected To Wilmington:NoneLike Wilmington Apple on Facebook. Follow Wilmington Apple on Twitter. Follow Wilmington Apple on Instagram. Subscribe to Wilmington Apple’s daily email newsletter HERE. Got a comment, question, photo, press release, or news tip? Email this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading… RelatedWilmington OBITUARIES (Week of August 4, 2019)In “Obituaries”Wilmington OBITUARIES (Week of July 28, 2019)In “Obituaries”Wilmington OBITUARIES (Week of August 11, 2019)In “Obituaries”last_img read more

No JaPa MP to join cabinet Ershad

first_imgJatiya Party chairman HM Ershad. File PhotoContradicting his party’s parliamentary party’s decision, Jatiya Party chairman HM Ershad on Friday said his party will be the main opposition in parliament while he will act as the leader of the opposition, reports UNB.In a statement on Friday, JaPa chairman Ershad made the announcement contradicting his party’s parliamentary party’s decision to join the Awami League-led Grand Alliance government.”As the chairman of the Jatiya Party, I would like to inform the people of the country and party leaders and activists at all levels that the Jatiya Party will act as the main opposition party in the 11th parliament.”He further said, “As the chairman of Jatiya Party parliamentary party, I’ll be the leader of the opposition while party co-chairman Golam Quader will be the deputy leader of the opposition at the House.”Ershad said no Jatiya Party MP will be there in the cabinet. “I urge the speaker of the House to take necessary steps in this regard.”On Thursday, Jatiya Party parliamentary party decided to join the Awami League-led Grand Alliance government to make contributions to the country’s further development under the leadership of prime minister Sheikh Hasina.Party co-chairman GM Quader made the announcement after its parliamentary party’s meeting in Jatiya Sangsad.Jatiya Party joined the election as the key partner of the Grand Alliance and bagged 22 seats.Party senior co-chairman Raushan Ershad was the opposition leader in 10th parliament while several MPs joined as cabinet members.last_img read more