Commuters and the public at large are being put in danger as a result of the latest trend in vandalism and thievery targeting train signaling systems in the Southland.
Within the last week, at a multitude of stops along the Orange County and Inland Empire-Orange County Line, traffic and signaling equipment for the Metrolink trains – primarily wire and copper-laden electrical connections – has been stolen.
This can result in the crossing gates and signals of the roads where the trains cross to fail or become dysfunctional. That could cause collisions with the trains, which can reach speeds of upwards of 40 miles per hour and as high as 50 miles per hour along the route.
Overall yesterday, precautions taken at spots where the trains intersect major roads along the Metrolink route entailed nearly an accumulated six hour delay. The trains would slow to a near stop or craw, with Metrolink personnel jumping from a lead car to serve as traffic officers at the road crossings, after which the trains would again pick up speed, only to slow at the next crossing.
Not all or even a majority of the electronic boxes near the intersections had been breached, but enough had been so that Metrolink officials out of an abundance of caution initiated the crossing stops or near-stops.
The thefts at what were at least two crossings happened in the early a.m. of September 22 in Orange County along the Metrolink track that ultimately extends into Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.
An emergency crew did repairs to the electrical/electronic signal boxes between the Orange and Santa Ana stations to replace wiring that had been removed.