12:36 PM

Metrolink Receives Federal Funding for First-of-Its-Kind Track Intrusion Detection System


LOS ANGELES – Metrolink, Southern California’s regional passenger rail operator, today announced it was awarded a $1.3 million Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation (SMART) Stage 1 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation for the development and demonstration of a pioneering track intrusion detection system. Last month, Congressman Brad Sherman (CA-32) secured an additional $1 million in congressionally directed spending in fiscal year 2024 appropriations to support the innovative rail safety project.

“Safety is fundamental at Metrolink,” Los Angeles City Council President and Metrolink Board Member Paul Krekorian said. “We truly appreciate the leadership and support of Congressman Sherman and the U.S. Department of Transportation for this innovative pilot project. If it succeeds, this project will not only improve the safety of our passengers and crew, it will directly benefit pedestrians, cyclists, drivers and everyone else who interacts with our system.”

During the project’s initial phase, the new intruder detection system will be concentrated within a 1.5-mile stretch of Metrolink’s Ventura County Line between Haskell Avenue and Van Nuys Boulevard in the City of Los Angeles. The prototype will explore the use of artificial intelligence (AI)-equipped cameras and radar or light detection and ranging sensors in connection with Metrolink’s existing Positive Train Control (PTC) system to identify and validate track intrusions, including individuals trespassing on the right of way, vehicles, or large objects and debris, and automatically slow or stop trains approaching that section of the rail line.

Between July and December 2023, passenger and freight trains operating on Metrolink service lines were involved in 53 vehicle and pedestrian strikes, a 39% increase compared to the same period in 2022, with nearly half of all strikes in 2023 ruled as suicides. Nationally, the rail industry continues to battle a challenging mental health landscape and a growing unhoused population, which often contribute to unsafe behaviors near train tracks.

The track intrusion detection system is one part of a comprehensive approach to increasing safety and reducing strikes on Metrolink’s system. Among other tactics, the agency is working with partners, including law enforcement, community groups and research institutions, to increase patrols and grade crossing enforcement in high-strike areas, remove encampments of unhoused individuals illegally occupying areas along the right of way, and raise awareness and understanding of the factors that lead to a person’s decision to commit suicide.

“We were the first passenger rail service in the U.S. to incorporate interoperable PTC, and we continue to explore new and emerging technologies and integrations to make our service even safer,” Metrolink CEO Darren Kettle said. “Looking ahead, the proposed track intrusion detection system could be modified for use by other passenger and freight railroads, dramatically increasing rail safety throughout the nation.”

The SMART Grants Program was established by the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to support investment in innovative transportation technology projects with a focus on making travel safer, cleaner, more equitable and affordable. SMART Grants are awarded in two phases. Stage 1 funding is intended to support planning and prototyping. Based on progress and scalability, projects may be selected for a subsequent Stage 2 award of up to $15 million for broader implementation.


About Metrolink (metrolinktrains.com)

Metrolink regional passenger rail service offers reliable, safe, affordable and environmentally sustainable transportation throughout Southern California. Metrolink has 545.6 total service line miles and 67 stations across Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura and San Diego counties connecting 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.