LA Mayor inspects new test equipment for life-saving rail safety tech

LA Mayor inspects new test equipment for life-saving rail safety tech

Metrolink unveiled its fully equipped Positive Train Control (PTC) test train at an event hosted by Metrolink Board Chair Richard Katz and the Metrolink Board. Participants included Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Chair of the National Transportation Safety Board Deborah Hersman, Deputy Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration Karen Hedlund, regulators, labor union representatives as well as top leadership from the BNSF and Union Pacific railroads.

“Throughout my career as Mayor, the day of the 2008 Metrolink crash was by far the hardest day on the job,” Mayor Villaraigosa said. “The Chatsworth tragedy inspired me to push for solutions to ensure a similar accident wouldn’t happen again. By unveiling this Positive Train Control-enabled test train today, we mark the first step on a journey toward a safer transit network in Los Angeles and nationwide.”

If a train is moving in unauthorized areas or going too fast, PTC can override the error that caused the movement and stop the train before an incident occurs. Metrolink, Amtrak, BNSF and Union Pacific have committed to implementing the life-saving technology in Southern California in advance of the 2015 federal mandate created by The Rail Safety Act of 2008 passed after the Chatsworth collision on Sept. 12, 2008.

“I commend Metrolink and their freight railroad partners for their leadership in implementing positive train control, technology that can prevent collisions and save lives,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board. “PTC is an investment in safety, and Southern California has shown the rest of the country that where there is a will, there is a way.”

Metrolink is nearly 50 percent through with its PTC implementation. The $210 million program is fully funded (73 percent state, 16 percent federal and 11 percent local funds). Metrolink’s PTC program calls for installing a back-office system (BOS), replacing the current computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system, installing on-board PTC equipment on 57 cab cars and 52 locomotives, installing systems to stop a train at 476 wayside signals, and implementing a six-county specialized communication network to link the wayside signals, trains and centralized dispatch office. The Metrolink Operations Center (MOC) is the dispatching hub for rail providers in Southern California, including other passenger and freight carriers, making it one of the nation’s busiest and most complex rail networks.

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“Positive Train Control will be the most significant rail safety advancement in our lifetime,” said Metrolink Board Chair Richard Katz. “PTC is the cornerstone of Metrolink’s commitment to be the safest rail in the nation. By implementing PTC as soon as possible, Metrolink will be enhancing safety for the region, as well as honoring the victims of the Chatsworth collision and their loved ones by making sure an incident of that nature doesn’t happen again.”

According to a 2009 report by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation, Metrolink’s PTC implementation is expected to support over 4,000 full-time jobs, equating to over $164 million in revenue.