Speed Appears to be Primary Factor in R Line Incident

DENVER (Feb. 15, 2019) – As the Regional Transportation District (RTD) and the City of Aurora Police Department continue to investigate the Jan. 28 light rail accident that resulted in serious injuries to multiple passengers, RTD has determined that the speed of the train approaching a curve at Sable Boulevard appears to be the primary factor of the derailment.

The specific light rail vehicle and relevant infrastructure involved were examined thoroughly with the oversight of the vehicle manufacturer, Siemens, and determined to be safe.

The human element is a factor in operating transit, which is why RTD has a rigid and extensive training process for bus and rail operators that takes into account a variety of safety issues. Light rail operators are trained to slow their trains when approaching sharp turns on the track. Since it was found that this operator was not following safety protocol, RTD has terminated the operator.

At the time of the incident, the train operator of the southbound R Line train entering the accident area acted as trained in an emergency situation and stopped the train to avoid any further incident.

“This unfortunate incident is troubling to me and the whole RTD organization, which is committed to providing safe service every day,” said RTD General Manager and CEO David Genova. “This is an extremely rare situation that we have never experienced in RTD’s nearly 25 years of light rail operation, and we’re doing all we can to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”

Elements of RTD’s investigation have included vehicle inspection, accident reconstruction and computer simulations by the manufacturer. Such actions allow RTD to better understand how the accident occurred.

RTD will continue to provide updates as the investigation unfolds and more information becomes available.