Railroad companies and transit agencies are federally mandated to implement positive train control — which combines global positioning satellite technology with digital communications to remotely stop wayward trains — by 2015.
Federal investigators have said the technology would have prevented the deadly Sept. 12 crash in Chatsworth, in which Metrolink 111 blew past a red light and collided with a southbound Union Pacific freighter, killing 25 people and injuring 135 others.
Roosevelt Middle School counselor Ron Grace was among those killed in the crash, as was La Crescenta resident Robert Sanchez, the Metrolink train’s engineer.
Three workers in Burbank also died in the collision: 59-year-old Public Works mechanic Alan Buckley; Walter Fuller, 54, a traffic control manager at Bob Hope Airport; and Dean Brower, 51, an employee at the city’s water reclamation plant.
Railroad freight companies that share track with Metrolink pledged earlier this month to beat the federal deadline by three years, and regional transit authorities in the weeks after the crash made it clear they would spare no expense in implementing the system as soon as possible.
“Obviously, the railway safety act is a step forward, but one that we’re going to have to keep on top of,” Los Angeles Mayor and MTA Chairman Antonio Villaraigosa said Thursday.
He acknowledged the $5-million effort to expand the “automatic train stop” system may seem like a futile effort given the mandate to install the more advanced positive train control, “but the technology for [automated train stop] is here.”