Metrolink’s Earthquake Early Warning System Gets Tech Update

Metrolink has updated its earthquake early warning system (EEW) to automatically slow down and stop trains when an earthquake occurs.

This is an improvement on the original system, trialled in autumn 2021, which simply alerted train operators that an earthquake was happening and that they should begin to slow or stop the train.

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

The EEW has been developed with support from the California Department of Transportation and the US Geological Survey (USGS) and is based on an interface between the USGS-operated ShakeAlert and Metrolink’s Positive Train Control (PTC) system.

The ShakeAlert earthquake early warning system provides data within seconds of an earthquake being detected, including its origin, location and magnitude, while PTC was designed to prevent unsafe actions that could lead to situations such as collisions or derailments.

Darren Kettle, CEO of Metrolink, said:

“The combination of ShakeAlert and PTC is a true game-changer for Metrolink.

“This latest advancement is a reflection of Metrolink’s ongoing leadership in system safety and an important milestone in our commitment to protecting our riders, workers and infrastructure.”

The new system will also provide enhanced data to support inspection of the rail network and service restarts after an earthquake.

Robert-Michael de Groot of the USGS Earthquake Science Center in Pasadena, said:

“The program identifies where protection is needed on a rail network to safely continue rail operations.”

The new system is now being tested along the operator’s 91/Perris Valley line between Riverside and Perris.

This section was chosen in order to minimise disruption to freight rail.

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