In the meantime, the board decided to expand an existing, less technologically advanced, automated-train-stop system across its roughly 350 miles of rail lines.
The system is used on a 30-mile stretch of Metrolink track in Orange County, and activates an alarm in the train’s cabin if the locomotive fails to heed a red signal. If the engineer fails to initiate braking within eight seconds of the alarm sounding, the train is automatically brought to a “controlled stop,” said Darrell Maxey, Metrolink’s director of engineering.
Only Metrolink passenger trains are outfitted with the technology, he added.
City Councilman Ara Najarian, second vice chairman on the Metrolink board, asked Maxey if the system could be altered to detect upcoming obstructions on the railroad, “such as a gasoline-soaked Jeep Cherokee,” referring to the 2005 derailment in Glendale that killed 11 people.
Other board members who pressed Maxey on how the technology could be improved were told the system has never truly been used in an emergency situation and was viewed as “unreliable.”
The board agreed to meet in two weeks to assess progress on implementing some of the more immediate safety enhancements and discuss a method for establishing an outside, independent review panel to monitor progress of the plan.
The panel would also review the Metrolink’s operations.
“A critical analysis is really needed at this time,” board Vice Chairman Keith Millhouse said.
JASON WELLS covers Glendale City Hall. He may be reached at (818) 637-3235 or by e-mail at jason.wells@ latimes.com.