Metrolink to Pilot Earthquake Early Warning System

Metrolink will pilot a new technology designed to ensure the safe and rapid slowing and stopping of trains in the event of an earthquake – even before ground shaking is felt.

The Earthquake Early Warning System is being deployed along Metrolink’s 91/Perris Valley Line between the cities of Perris and Riverside.

A Metrolink train in San Clemente, California
A Metrolink train in San Clemente, California

This pilot is in partnership with the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and the technology uses data from the USGS’ ShakeAlert system to notify Metrolink’s Positive Train Control (PTC) that an earthquake has occurred.

The PTC system is designed to prevent train-on-train collisions, over-speed derailments, incursions into established work zones, and other train movements that could potentially lead to incidents.

The early warning system will also provide enhanced data to support inspection of the rail network and resumption of service following an earthquake.

Darren Kettle, Metrolink CE, said:

“This program is another initiative by Metrolink to move technology forward in a real-world environment to help protect our riders and crews.”

The system will be deployed on Metrolink trains in two phases. The initial version automatically processes ShakeAlert data and sends notifications to train crews in the impacted area with train handling instructions based on the severity of the earthquake detected.

A second phase, which is under development, adds PTC enforcement to automatically stop or slow trains when needed.

The technology was tested on the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) commuter rail service in northern California and has been in full operation for a year.

After the system is fully developed it will be evaluated for potential expansion across the entire Metrolink system.

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