Southern California breaking news and trends

Catching a runaway train: The race to keep funding for CA's high-speed rail

Courtesy California High Speed Rail Authority

A rendering of what a high-speed rail train would look like traversing California's desert.

The first 130-mile segment of the proposed California high-speed rail line must be completed by September 2017 in order to not risk losing federal funding, reports the L.A. Times.

At a projected cost of $6 billion, California would be spending up to $3.5 million every day, including weekends and holidays, to finish by deadline, while the California High-Speed Rail Authority will need to acquire approximately 120 permits and 1,100 parcels of land and mobilize a massive workforce.

It would be "the fastest rate of transportation construction known in U.S. history, according to industry and academic experts," says the Times.


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.


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.