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Metrolink Completes Systemwide Deployment of Earthquake Early Warning Technology

System uses USGS ShakeAlert®-powered data to automatically stop or slow trains before impacts of shaking occur


LOS ANGELES – On the eve of the 90th anniversary of the 6.4-magnitude 1933 Long Beach earthquake along the Newport-Inglewood fault, Metrolink announced that it has completed the full deployment of its advanced ShakeAlert-powered Earthquake Early Warning system along segments of all seven of its passenger rail lines.

 This is the final step in a months-long roll out of cutting-edge technology that automatically alerts trains and applies the brakes for safe and rapid slowing or stopping of trains operating on Metrolink-owned tracks in the event of an earthquake. 

“Safety is at the foundation of all we do,” Metrolink CEO Darren Kettle said. “We are not able to prevent earthquakes here in Southern California, but we now have critical data and technology that allows us to detect shaking earlier, mitigate impacts and save lives. With earthquake early warning technology now available on all our lines, it gives me great satisfaction to know we are doing everything we can to protect our riders and staff.” 

Metrolink’s EEW system is based on an interface between the United States Geological Survey ShakeAlert® system and Metrolink’s Positive Train Control (PTC) system. ShakeAlert is an earthquake early warning system that provides important data within seconds of an earthquake being detected, including the earthquake’s location, magnitude and estimated shaking so people and systems can be alerted before shaking begins. PTC is designed to prevent train-to-train collisions, over-speed derailments and other unsafe actions. Together, the two systems allow trains to detect and respond as quickly as possible to an earthquake, while also providing enhanced data to support inspection of the rail network and resumption of service following an earthquake.

“Protecting lives is at the core of the USGS mission,” USGS ShakeAlert Coordinator Robert deGroot said. “It is exciting to partner with Metrolink on this enforced braking technology to enhance safety for train riders and crew when an earthquake is detected by the ShakeAlert system.”

Metrolink’s implementation of ShakeAlert-powered technology is supported through a partnership with the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and USGS. It was first introduced on Metrolink in September 2021; however, at that time, the technology did not yet include automated braking. Instead, alerts about imminent shaking were received by dispatching staff who used that information to instruct train engineers to manually slow or stop the train if needed.

Metrolink now automates this process by alerting key train personnel and using Metrolink’s PTC system to enforce braking so the train can stop or slow down in response to an alert. This allows for a faster reaction to shaking, which could ultimately save lives and/or minimize damage.

Metrolink’s EEW system was first piloted along the 91/Perris Valley Line between Riverside and Perris in June 2022. Since then, Metrolink teams have rolled out the technology along segments of its other six lines spanning six counties in Southern California.

The Long Beach earthquake struck on March 10, 1933, at 5:54 p.m., impacted 75,000 square miles, and was felt throughout Southern California. The earthquake’s 90th anniversary tomorrow serves as a reminder that we must always be vigilant no matter where we are – even on a train. It is also interesting to note that Long Beach was the first earthquake recorded by newly developed strong motion instruments called “accelerographs,” underscoring the importance of continually seeking out and using technology, like the ShakeAlert system, to better detect and respond to potentially deadly earthquakes.

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About Metrolink (metrolinktrains.com)

 Metrolink regional passenger rail service offers reliable, safe, affordable and environmentally sustainable transportation throughout Southern California. The Agency’s 547 miles of track and 67 stations across Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties connect people, communities, and businesses and is an essential link in the region’s mobility network. Metrolink’s Arrow service, which launched in October 2022 with nine miles of track and four new stations between San Bernardino and Redlands, provides greater local and regional rail connectivity. People who choose to ride Metrolink are helping to remove an estimated 9.3 million vehicles from the roads and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 130,000 metric tons each year. 

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