LA County to help pay for train braking system

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Los Angeles County transportation officials agreed on Thursday to help fund technology that could help prevent train collisions and called for putting a second engineer and video cameras in train locomotives.
The actions by the county Metropolitan Transportation Authority's board of directors come in response to a head-on collision between a Metrolink commuter train and a freight train that killed 25 people on Sept. 12.

The board voted to find $5 million to use toward a collision avoidance system on tracks used by Metrolink trains. The MTA is a member of the Southern California Regional Rail Authority, which consists of five county transportation agencies that jointly operate the Metrolink system.

The money would roughly cover the cost of implementing such technology on 186 miles of rail within the county, MTA spokesman Dave Sotero said.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the chair of the MTA board, urged for the use of automatic train stop technology as an interim safety measure while waiting for so-called positive train control to be implemented. He said it could take about one year to implement the technology.

Automatic train stop, which has existed for decades, slows the train if the engineer misses or ignores a signal.

The positive train control system monitors train location and speed using satellite-based positioning systems and digital communication. It can engage the brakes if a train fails to heed signals or gets on the wrong track. The National Transportation Safety Board has long advocated for positive train control, but railroads have balked at the cost and reliability of the technology.

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