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City’s focus on security after attack on engineer

(The following story by Tony Bizjak appeared on the Sacramento Bee website on April 18.)

WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. — West Sacramento officials say they will work on railroad security issues in the wake of a brutal assault on an engineer that briefly disrupted Capitol Corridor passenger train service earlier this week.

Mayor Christopher Cabaldon said he has instructed the police chief and city manager to report on what can be done after an engineer was dragged off a Sacramento-bound train and beaten by several people with rocks and bottles Monday night.

"This is lawless barbarism," Cabaldon said. "We have been proud of how safe and secure the trains are. We want to be sure this does not escalate."

Another train was hit by thrown rocks in a separate incident Tuesday afternoon in Richmond, Capitol Corridor officials said. One of the rocks broke a window and cut an engineer.

"I am just beside myself right now," said Gene Skoropowski, executive director of the Capitol Corridor system, which runs between Auburn and the Bay Area. "This is crazy. This is federal offense stuff in my book."

In the West Sacramento incident, the engineer had stopped the train at 10:15 p.m. Monday when signals alerted him that something was on the tracks ahead. He was attacked when he opened the cab door to investigate, according to Capitol Corridor officials.

The engineer was treated Tuesday for head and internal injuries, Skoropowski said.

One alleged attacker was arrested by Union Pacific police, Skoropowski said.

Calling the West Sacramento attack the worst in the train system’s eight-year history, Skoropowski said he is contacting officials with the cities and with Union Pacific, which owns the tracks, to discuss more security and other operational changes to increase safety.

Skoropowski said the section of track west of the I Street bridge has suffered vandalism over the years, as have sections of tracks in Richmond.

Cabaldon suggested West Sacramento police can maintain closer contact with trains so they can check out disturbances on the line rather than the engineer.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

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