Metrolink announced this week it plans to be the first commuter rail service in the U.S. to install a GPS-based tracking system that helps prevent train collisions.
The new GPS tracking system is called “positive train control.”
The tracking system can monitor train locations and speeds and detect whether a train is on the wrong track or has missed signals. It can slow or even stop a train remotely, adding an extra layer of protection in case of an accident.
Metrolink board chairman Richard Katz told the Ventura Star he thinks the tracking system could have prevented a deadly train crash in 2008, when a Metrolink train ran a stop signal in Chatsworth and slammed into an oncoming freight train. Twenty-five people were killed and over 100 were injured in the accident.
“Twenty-five lives could have been saved and the 2008 Chatsworth train wreck avoided if a GPS-based tracking system had been in place,” said Mr. Katz. “Odds are we would have prevented the crash,” said Katz. “At a minimum, the speeds would have been greatly reduced and it would have been a less severe accident had positive train control been in place.”
Federal rail authorities have mandated that all commuter rail services install the tracking system by 2015. Metrolink wants to do it two years ahead of that timeline.