President Barack Obama recently signed a spending bill that allocates $50 million for a railroad-safety system known as “positive train control.” Metrolink hopes to grab as much of that cash as it can.
Positive train control is GPS-based satellite technology that tracks a lot of factors about trains: the number of passengers, type of cargo, wind velocity, the flatness or slope of the tracks. It applies that data to braking a train, says Richard Katz of Metrolink’s Board of Directors.
"So if a train runs a red light or something happens, Positive Train Control has the ability to slow that train down to a stop, " says Katz. Eventually, every commuter rail service in the country will have to use the technology.
Katz says Metrolink's goal is to be up and operating 3 years before the federal mandate of 2015
So Metrolink needs any chunk it can get of the $50 million in the current spending bill, and then some: Katz says that installing the technology across Metrolink’s 5 counties will cost $200 million.