Outgoing Metrolink Chief John Fenton raised the bar, staffers say

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Metrolink officials are planning to delegate the duties of outgoing chief executive John Fenton until they find someone to replace him. Fenton announced on Monday that he’s resigning after only two years with the regional commuter rail system.

Fenton will stick around for another month or so before heading to Boca Raton, Florida, where he’ll run a railroad company based there.

Metrolink's board chairman Richard Katz says Fenton was planning to install a $200 million global positioning operation to monitor the system’s trains.

“This system acts as a backup," Katz explains. "[It] slows down or stops a train if somebody runs a red light or if something happens, so that accidents can be avoided. John would tell you that this is probably [...] the most significant advance in railway safety for our passengers that will take place in our lifetime.”

Katz says Fenton raised the bar when he aimed to complete that project by the start of 2014, two years ahead of the federal mandate. It’s intended to prevent a crash similar to the Chatsworth collision that killed 25 people over three years ago.

Leaders credit Fenton with stepping up safety precautions at Metrolink. The rail network connects tens of thousands of commuters a day to LA, Riverside, Orange, San Bernardino, San Diego and Ventura counties.

He also boosted ridership, saved millions of budget dollars, introduced high tech rail cars and installed cameras in locomotive cabs to monitor engineers.

The new job’s not the only reason John Fenton’s going to Florida. He says he wants to live closer to relatives, including a daughter who lives in Jacksonville.

Metrolink officials say they’re looking for a new chief.

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