New Metrolink rail cars designed with safety in mind

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Spurred by two deadly crashes since 2005, Metrolink has now replaced almost all its fleet of aging rail cars with a state-of-the-art model designed to better protect passengers and crews.

Officials for the commuter railroad announced Tuesday that they have received the last batch of 137 passenger cars purchased for $263.3 million from Hyundai Rotem Inc. in South Korea.

Dubbed the “Guardian Fleet” by Metrolink, the Rotem cars have energy-absorbing crumple zones and other safety measures now required by the federal government — improvements that the railroad pushed hard to make after a deadly Glendale crash that killed 11 people in 2005.

RailcarOfficials say the new cars mark a milestone in the line’s effort to regain public trust following the Glendale wreck and the 2008 collision with a Union Pacific freight train in Chatsworth that left 25 dead and 135 injured.

“Metrolink has gone to great lengths to improve safety protocols throughout our agency and is now leading the nation in rail safety technology,” said San Bernardino Mayor Pat Morris, chairman of the railroad.

With more than 500 miles of track, Metrolink serves Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Ventura counties. It averages 41,000 boardings a day.

The Hyundai deals involved 117 cars that have already been delivered and an additional 20 bought at a discount of $1 million per car that arrived between January and June.

Their safety features include piston-like, push-back frames and couplers that transfer crash energy around passengers to the rear of the train.