Metrolink looks to track down federal money for new rail safety system

A Metrolink passenger train car arrives at the downtown Riverside station.
A Metrolink passenger train car arrives at the downtown Riverside station. itsjames460/Flickr CC

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.

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