Amtrak contract to operate Metrolink trains begins in June

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A Metrolink passenger train car arrives at the downtown Riverside station.

Amtrak will operate Metrolink trains starting in late June. The national passenger rail company and the Southland’s commuter rail service announced their new contract Friday.

The deal has been on track for months. Amtrak will provide train and engine crews to run Metrolink’s locomotives and rail cars. Metrolink says Amtrak’s experience and multiple safety programs fit in with the regional rail service’s drive to ramp up safety.

Metrolink currently subcontracts its operations to Connex, but it’s essentially been riding out that arrangement for the last year and a half. In September 2008, a Metrolink train crashed into a Union Pacific freight train in Chatsworth; the collision killed 25 people and injured 100. The engineer on the Metrolink train — a Connex employee — had been texting frequently on his cell phone.

Amtrak’s new contract with Metrolink is to last four years, with the potential for two three-year extensions.

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