Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Metrolink responds to L.A. Times article

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Doug Smith's article ("Metrolink system's toll: 244," 9/25) regarding the history of incidents and fatalities on the Metrolink rail network was long on damning rhetoric and data but short on reporting progress on a critical national matter - improving the safety of a rail system that is shared by freight trains, Amtrak and commuter trains. Railroad safety is a shared responsibility of regulatory agencies, railroad owners and operators and the local jurisdictions with streets that cross tracks.

Numerous safety measures have been completed or are underway in the areas highlighted by Mr. Smith and throughout our 512 route-mile network.

Crossing enhancements have been completed at Van Nuys Avenue and Flower Street with 11 additional projects being designed. $170 million in funding is being sought from the Economic Stimulus program to improve up to 40 crossings in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties and to enhance pedestrian and bicyclist safety near five stations.

Metrolink has installed fencing along several miles of tracks along San Fernando Road in the Pacoima/San Fernando area to enhance pedestrian safety.

Earlier this year, Metrolink adopted the nation's most-advanced rail crossing design standards. They incorporate many features used on the Metro light rail system and will be used for future projects on our shared network.

And more than $100 million is currently programmed to build bridges for trains at both Buena Vista and Empire Avenues.

Metrolink is disappointed that the LA Times failed to show the progress made daily to improve safety of the regional rail system. Perhaps the story will have two beneficial outcomes - to remind every pedestrian and driver to take responsibility for preventing danger to themselves and others when near railroad tracks and to encourage the acceleration of dedicated funding to address the critical matter of public safety.

Keith Millhouse, Chairman of the Board

Southern California Regional Rail Authority (Metrolink)

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