Photo by Stéfan via Flickr Creative Commons
Metrolink says all its commuter trains will be outfitted with GPS-based tracking devices by next year, two years ahead of a federally mandated deadline for the safety system.
The Ventura County Star reports Sunday that the $200-plus million system, known as positive train control, will be the first of its kind among U.S. passenger railroads.
It monitors speed and location and can detect whether a train is on the wrong track or has missed signals to slow down — and if so, can automatically stop the train safely.
Metrolink Board Chairman Richard Katz tells the newspaper if the rail system had positive train control in place at the time of the 2008 Chatsworth crash that killed 25 people, the accident might have been avoided.
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The heyday of hidden, high-tech tracking came to a screeching halt Monday as the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that authorities must obtain a search warrant before employing GPS technology in pursuit of criminal suspects.
In the case of United States v. Jones, the court found that the FBI and police violated the 4th Amendment "by attaching a GPS device to a Jeep owned by a drug suspect," explains the L.A. Times.
The GPS device helped authorities link Washington, D.C., nightclub owner Antoine Jones to a suburban house used to stash money and drugs. He was sentenced to life in prison before the appeals court overturned the conviction.
Although justices were in agreement that a search warrant is required, they were divided on what constitutes "tracking."