Caltrain has ordered a dramatic slowdown of trains going through the Charleston Road crossing in Palo Alto while the transportation agency continues to investigate the cause of an Indiana woman's death on April 15, a rail agency spokesman said.
Judy Goldblatt, 65, of Indianapolis, was killed instantly by a northbound rush-hour train that slammed into her rental car. Witnesses said the vehicle was trapped on the tracks during heavy traffic. Her husband, Lawrence Goldblatt, dean emeritus of the Indiana University School of Dentistry, escaped unharmed before the impact, according to police.
The train slowdown affects every Caltrain passing Charleston Road, including express trains, said Mark Simon, spokesman for Caltrain's governing board, the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board. He did not know how greatly the speed has been reduced, but called it "significant."
The train that hit the Goldblatts' car was traveling an estimated 79 mph.
Simon would not comment on what investigators are looking for, nor did he know how long the investigation would take or when the trains might operate at normal speeds again. The slowdown order only applies only to the Charleston crossing, he added.
Volunteer track watchers, who patrol the Caltrain right-of-way in Palo Alto to deter suicides, said the slowdown has been ongoing since the accident.
Upgrades at the Charleston crossing were made in March as part of a Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) pedestrian- and bike-safety-improvement program that includes all four Palo Alto grade crossings: Charleston, Meadow, Churchill and Alma. Some residents claimed since the work, the warning bells are quieter and the lights and crossing arms are not synchronized. But Caltrain officials have said all of the work is compliant with California Public Utilities Commission regulations.