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New contractor hired for Metrolink crash-avoidance safety system

New contractor hired for Metrolink crash-avoidance safety system
Crews remove the side of a Metrolink passenger car that was destroyed in a head-on collision with a Union Pacific freight train near the Chatsworth railroad station in 2008. (Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)

Officials of the Metrolink commuter railroad on Friday hired a new company to provide a key component for the line’s $211-million state-of-the-art collision avoidance system.

The railroad’s board of directors unanimously awarded a $6.8-million contract to Wabtec Corp. to install a computer system that will help dispatchers monitor operations on Metrolink’s 500-mile network.

The component is a critical part of the line's positive train control system, which the railroad is trying to finish by January 2015, almost a year ahead of a federal deadline for installing the technology nationwide.

Wabtec, a leader in developing so-called PTC, replaces ARINC, a technology firm that failed to meet deadlines in the development of the computer-aided dispatch system.

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Railroad officials said they hope the change will help keep the project on schedule.

Metrolink, which serves six Southern California counties and more than 40,000 riders daily, is trying to become the first carrier in the nation to install positive train control throughout its entire system.

PTC combines computers, digital radio systems and global positioning devices to track trains and take control of them if necessary to prevent collisions, derailments and other accidents.

The project is part of the line’s ongoing effort to bolster safety in the aftermath of the Chatsworth crash that killed 25 people and injured 135 in 2008. Federal investigators said PTC could have prevented the head-on collision of a Metrolink train with a Union Pacific freight train.

The accident prompted Congress to require freight and passenger railroads to install positive train control by December 2015.

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