Southern California breaking news and trends

Metrolink commuter trains to get GPS devices two years ahead of schedule

train in the rain toys

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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Supreme Court on GPS tracking: Police will now need a warrant

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Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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." 

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