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Derailment debate: Expo Line junction, what's your malfunction?

Expo Line Test

Kevin Ferguson/KPCC

The Exposition Line train after finishing a test run.

Inspections have been ordered for the Expo Line / Blue Line rail junction because of a design issue that poses an increased risk of derailments, say state safety regulators. 

Metro officials, however, say small modifications at Washington Boulevard and Flower Street have made a huge difference, and that the intersection is safe. 

The issues in question stem from "non-standard" fixes, and a special inspection program is required, says Michelle Cooke of the California Public Utilities Commission's rail safety unit, notes the L.A. Times.

The extra inspections, which will continue indefinitely, were a condition of commission approvals to open the first 7.9 miles of Expo Line last month.

MTA records show the junction as built is defective and presents potential maintenance and safety issues, including a heightened risk that southbound Blue Line trains could derail in the sharply curving intersection — or elsewhere along their route — because of equipment damage.

About 140 trains trips a day are made on the Blue Line, one of the nation's busiest light rail systems with 26 million riders annually.


Shhh! OC is one of the quietest counties in the U.S.

train whistle

Kevin Galens via Flickr Creative Commons

When you can't hear the train, that's when the train is coming. And that's exactly how Orange County wants it.

On Jan. 18, the Orange County Transportation Authority will be celebrating its victory over railroad noise pollution with the establishment of "quiet zones" throughout the county. In your face, horns!

Additionally, OCTA has just completed a comprehensive rail safety program with $85 million of enhanced safety measures implemented at more than 50 crossings. The upgrades allowed OC cities to apply for "quiet zone" status, said the Orange County Transportation Authority in a statement.

Currently, more than 72 commuter and freight trains travel through the OC every day. By 2030 that number is expected to grow to 108. Multiply that by the law requiring engineers to sound the horn up to four times per crossing, and the answer is: loud.