A new safety system designed to better protect commuter trains from impending collisions is set to be unveiled today by Metrolink officials in Los Angeles.
Known as “positive train control” technology, the new system uses a GPS network to link all passenger and freight trains together, sharing vital information about location and speeds. If the system detects a potentially dangerous situation or impending collision, it will send a warning to the train’s engineers.
If engineers do not heed the system’s warning, the computerized system will itself assume control of the train and bring it to a stop to avoid an accident.
In total, the system is expected to cost upwards of $200 million to implement, and is projected to be installed on all trains in the US by the year 2015, though Metrolink is hopeful that the system can be installed quicker.
This newly designed system was developed as a result of the terrible train crash that took place on September 18, 2008, which took the lives of 25 people and injured 126 more in Chatsworth.
The accident, described as one of the worst railway accidents in United States history, involved a southbound Metrolink train on the path to Ventura and a freight train which collided at high speeds, creating an accordion-like accident that did extreme damage.
It was found through a police investigation that the accident was the result of the passenger train’s engineer passing directly through the red stop signal without noticing it. It was discovered that he was busy texting on his cellphone whilst blowing passed the signal.
This new positive train control system looks to prevent distractions like these from leading to such serious disasters, and will hopefully remind engineers to stay focused on the track ahead.
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