Metrolink was among the multiple government agencies that participated Thursday in the annual Great California ShakeOut, a statewide earthquake drill held in conjunction with International ShakeOut Day.
At 10:19 a.m., Metrolink trains operating on Metrolink-owned tracks were slowed by an automated process initiated by Metrolink’s cutting-edge early earthquake detection system, which was adopted systemwide in March. Metrolink is the first and only railroad in the country to integrate Positive Train Control and U.S. Geological Survey ShakeAlert early earthquake warning technology, according to a news release from Metrolink.
“In Southern California, earthquakes can happen at any time,” Metrolink CEO Darren Kettle said in the release. “Preparedness is paramount. That’s why Metrolink is setting the bar with a pioneering new early detection system that uses advanced technology to automatically slow or stop our trains in the event of an earthquake. We saw the system in action last August when a magnitude 5.1 earthquake was detected in Ventura County. The Great California ShakeOut is yet another opportunity to showcase this critical tool, while demonstrating our commitment to customer safety.”
Within seconds of earthquake detection, ShakeAlert relays important data, including location, magnitude and anticipated shaking to Metrolink’s early detection system. Metrolink’s integrated PTC technology then initiates the appropriate automated response to keep impacted trains safe. ShakeAlert also provides enhanced data to help operational staff evaluate the rail network and safely resume service following a disruption.
During Thursday’s simulation, trains operating on Metrolink tracks were automatically slowed to a restricted speed of or below 20 mph for several minutes before they were released to resume normal operation. Conductors on participating trains made an onboard announcement explaining to passengers that they were taking part in a simulation and the slowdown was not due to a real earthquake.
Metrolink trains traveling on partner-owned tracks operated by BNSF Railway, the North County Transit District and Union Pacific received automated notifications informing crews of the simulated drill.
Multiple government agencies, including first responders throughout L.A. County, also participated in the ShakeOut earthquake preparedness drill.