Metrolink adding locomotives to enhance safety

Here is the news release from Metrolink:

Metrolink to enhance safety and performance by adding locomotives

Metrolink will add second locomotive to each train set   

LOS ANGELES – Metrolink has made the proactive decision to add a second locomotive to each train set beginning as soon as possible. Beginning this month, in a collaborative effort using BNSF Railway locomotives, Metrolink will soon have a locomotive on either end of each train to compliment the passenger rail’s existing fleet.

“We are taking this additional step as a redundancy to keep our riders safe, while a second locomotive will address some of our recent mechanical delays,” Metrolink Chief Executive Officer Art Leahy said. “I want to reassure all Metrolink riders we continue to be dedicated to be the safest railroad in the nation.”

In 2010, Metrolink introduced its Hyundai-Rotem cab and passenger rail cars to its fleet. Hyundai-Rotem cab cars are positioned on the opposite end from the locomotive in Metrolink’s current configuration of train sets. A BNSF locomotive will soon be positioned in front of each cab car.

A review of the Hyundai-Rotem cab cars began earlier this year. On Feb. 24, an unoccupied truck and trailer on the tracks was struck by Metrolink Ventura County Line Train 102 near the Rice Avenue rail crossing in Oxnard, Calif. Train 102 was led by a Hyundai-Rotem cab car. The accident is still under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and all questions relating to the accident need to be directed to NTSB personnel.

For more information about service, passengers can contact Metrolink at 800-371-5465 (LINK) or go to


Metrolink is Southern California’s regional passenger rail service in its 23rd year of operation. The Southern California Regional Rail Authority (SCRRA), a joint powers authority made up of an 11-member board representing the transportation commissions of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Ventura counties, governs the service. Metrolink operates over seven routes through a six-county, 512 route-mile network, which includes a portion of northern San Diego County. Metrolink is the third largest commuter rail agency in the United States based on directional route miles and the eighth largest based on annual ridership.

7 replies

  1. LA Times reports that it’s a temporary measure due to concern that the Rotem cab car pilot (aka “cowcatcher”) design is flawed. The Rotem cars with their CEM (crash energy management) performed abysmally in the Oxnard cab car crash into a relatively light truck on straight and level track. Cars were strewn all over and there were no CEM-related deformations in evidence. It seems the pilot may too easily allow objects to wedge under and derail trains in collisions that should be no problem for cab cars with properly designed pilots.

  2. So instead of having half the Metrolink trains runs in a pusher configuration where the heavy locomotive is at the rear, Metrolink will always have a heavy locomotive at both ends. This will help reduce injuries in the case of a relatively light weight object (like a car) is on the rail line. But if the front locomotive derails (for example, because of excessive speed or a broken/displaced rail track) then the rear locomotive will still push the rest of the train into the front locomotive (accordion-ing or telescope-ing the passenger cars). So some improvement in safety but I still wish Metrolink would only put the locomotives in the front like most freight trains do.

    • I agree with you – but they can’t. For example, Union Station…. or Moorpark…. terminus of the Ventura County line. There’s no way to turn the train around to have the locomotive AT the front.

      Yes, it makes sense to have a heavy traincar at the front and not at the rear, but at the current time, there is no way to do that. Current stations do not provide a way for them to swap out the direction of the train. It’s either push/pull with one engine, or put an engine on both ends and always pull.

      And, if this improves service and reduces delays, that’s a bonus.

  3. As Metro is Metrolink’s landlady now at Los Angeles Union Station, any insight as to how the level boarding platforms will function if there is a BNSF Pumpkin sitting between the demoted cab car and the buffers?

  4. So why didn’t Mitrolink at the time they decided to buy the Rotem cars decide instead to use locomotives or to at least use locomotive control units without engines? As a Metrolink rider I find the Rotem cars especially the cab units very uncomfortable and hard riding. In the cab units all of the seats face backwards. In all of the cars the seats are too close together with the backs too high and too straight up. After trying the Rotem cars a couple of times, I now always ride the older Bombardier Transportation cars. The Rotem cars are so bad and as the choice to ride the older cars is becoming less I do believe that the terrible Rotem cars have a lot to do with the loss of Metrolink ridership.

  5. There must be more to this than is disclosed in the article. If Metrolink is going to the expense of renting BNSF locomotives so as to ensure every train has a locomotive on both ends, they clearly have some concerns about running in the “push” mode with a cab car leading and the locomotive pushing. Either they are concerned that the push mode may be inherently unsafe, or that the new Hyundai-Rotem cab cars have some safety issue that did non exist with the original Bombardier cab cars.