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 tracking system is called “positive train control.”
Metrolink board chairman Richard Katz told the Ventura Star he thinks the tracking system may have been able to prevent a deadly train crash when a train ran a stop signal and slammed into an oncoming freight train in 2008.
Twenty-five people were killed and over 100 were injured in the train collision.
“Twenty-five lives could have been saved and the Chatsworth train wreck avoided if a 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.”
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.
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.