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RTD lacks technology that might have prevented Aurora derailment that severed woman’s leg

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Posted at 6:31 PM, Feb 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-14 20:34:08-05

DENVER — RTD has technology that can automatically stop its light-rail trains from colliding with each other, but the transit agency doesn’t have the ability to slow a train rounding a sharp bend at high speed, The Denver Post has learned.

Decisions on how to best safeguard light-rail systems in this country are largely left up to individual transit agencies, and the Regional Transportation District had no automatic checks in place to override an R-Line light-rail train that went off the tracks last month in Aurora, leaving a woman with a severed leg and a half dozen other riders injured.

According to multiple witnesses, the derailment occurred as the train was going too fast around a 90-degree curve at the intersection of South Sable Boulevard and East Exposition Avenue. It’s not clear how the woman was ejected from the rail car.

Aurora police said in a news release after the Jan. 28 incident that speed and weather — it was snowing at the time the train jumped the track — would be examined. The train’s operator was placed on paid administrative leave.

RTD spokeswoman Laurie Huff said the question of whether the derailment could have been prevented with technology is not one she can answer until RTD and Aurora police complete their investigations. But she said RTD has to consider a number of factors when adding redundancies and safety backstops to its rail lines.

Read the rest from our partners at The Denver Post.