Engineer Sometimes Let Rail Buffs Take Controls: Feds

By Will McCahill,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 3, 2009 2:50 PM CST
Robert Sanchez was the engineer of the Metrolink commuter train that collided with a freight train onear Chatsworth, Calif., on Sept. 12, 2008.   (California Department of Motor Vehicles)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – The engineer of the passenger train involved in the September collision that killed 25 people near Los Angeles sometimes allowed amateur rail buffs to ride with him and take the controls, the Times reports. Federal investigators today released evidence, including a text from the day of the crash: “I’m REALLY looking forward to getting you in the cab and showing you how to run a locomotive,” Robert Sanchez wrote an enthusiast.

“Dude me too,” the unidentified recipient replied. “Running a locomotive. Having all of that in the palms of my hands. Its a great feeling.” Sanchez answered: “I’m gonna do all the radio talkin’ … ur gonna run the locomotive & I’m gonna tell u how to do it.” Sanchez was texting moments before he ran a red light and collided with a freight train, investigators also revealed—and superiors had twice warned him about the practice.