All Eggs in the HSR Basket

California Governor Schwarzenegger has ordered state officials to seek federal funding only for the state's high-speed rail project--at the expense of efforts to make Metrolink trains safer, some say.

"Eliminated from the state application for federal funds was almost $170 million for positive train control -- computer-guided braking systems designed to prevent collisions and allow conventional trains to safely travel at 110 mph. Such automated systems, which the federal government wants installed by 2015, would have prevented the Metrolink crash in Chatsworth last year that killed 25 people in the worst rail accident in modern California history."

"However, Richard Katz, a former assemblyman who sits on the Metrolink, high-speed rail and Metropolitan Transportation Authority boards, was more optimistic that conventional rail projects, such as positive train control, would not be jeopardized by the governor's concentration on high-speed rail.

For example, Katz said, Metrolink, which serves six counties, needs roughly $200 million to $210 million to install positive train control by 2012.

About $70 million has been requested from other federal sources, and efforts are underway to try to redirect $97 million from state transportation bonds that are earmarked to rebuild the Colton railroad crossing.

If positive train control cannot get enough federal or state funding, Katz said he believes the MTA would lend Metrolink the money.

'We are still in good shape overall,' Katz said. 'We're applying for everything we can get our hands on. I think we will do well in all our funding requests.'"

Full Story: Schwarzenegger quietly quashed effort to improve commuter rails

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