Watch: Metrolink Expands ‘Smart Crossing’ Technology to Benefit San Juan Capistrano Community

Written by Metrolink, Agency Communications
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LOS ANGELES — Metrolink, Southern California’s regional passenger rail provider, has implemented cutting-edge ‘smart crossing’ technology known as a Wireless Crossing Nearside Station Stop (WCNSS) system at the Del Obispo Street crossing near the San Juan Capistrano Station in Orange County.

Made possible by grant funding from the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) program, this pioneering technology, which went live at the crossing on June 1, 2024, creates a better experience for drivers and pedestrians while increasing safety for Metrolink passengers and the San Juan Capistrano community.

Specifically, the WCNSS system will eliminate the ‘ghost train’ phenomenon that has plagued San Juan Capistrano residents. Previously, on approach to the San Juan Capistrano Station, trains would trigger the safety features at the downstream Del Obispo Street crossing. While the train was stopped at the station, the gate arms would recover – creating a ‘ghost train’ effect – before the safety mechanism was once again triggered as the train left the station.

“Installing WCNSS systems at railway crossings near stations is a crucial step forward that underscores Metrolink’s commitment to enhancing the safety and efficiency of our infrastructure,” Metrolink Board Vice Chair and Orange County Supervisor Doug Chaffee said. “Not only will this innovative technology alleviate frustration and improve the safety of San Juan Capistrano residents, it will also benefit communities across Metrolink’s system as it becomes more prevalent.”

Upgrading crossings with the WCNSS system reduces traffic congestion and prioritizes safety by reducing wait times and deterring dangerous behavior such as drivers and pedestrians bypassing activated crossing gates. Metrolink continues to pursue new and emerging technologies to improve system performance and provide seamless and safe commuting experiences for passengers and the communities throughout Southern California in which Metrolink trains operate.

Initially, the new WCNSS system at the Del Obispo Street crossing will prevent southbound Metrolink trains scheduled to stop at the San Juan Capistrano Station from activating the crossing’s safety features until it has left the station. WCNSS technology is not yet available for other passenger train services operating on Metrolink’s rail lines, though plans to expand to Amtrak Pacific Surfliner are ongoing. Freight traffic will not be affected, as freight trains do not stop at the San Juan Capistrano Station.

Earlier this year, late Senator Dianne Feinstein and Senator Alex Padilla jointly secured $1.6 million in FY24 appropriations funding for Metrolink to support the installation of ‘smart crossing’ technology at additional rail crossings. Metrolink continues to collaborate with local, state and federal partners with the long-term goal of implementing WCNSS systems at 52 crossings located within one-half mile of Metrolink stations.

The first WCNSS systems installed on Metrolink’s network were developed, certified and deployed for the Arrow service at seven crossings in the cities of San Bernardino and Redlands. Metrolink has been operating WCNSS technology since October 2022, when the Arrow service launched.

Video courtesy of Metrolink

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