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North County Coaster Rolls Out New Operating System

A North County Transit District Coaster train shown in this undated photo.

Credit: North County Transit District

Above: A North County Transit District Coaster train shown in this undated photo.

Coaster passengers could experience delays starting Monday as the North County Transit District rolls out a new operating system.

The Positive Train Control system is designed to make rail service safer and more efficient. The system uses to GPS technology, digital communications and on-board computers to monitor locations and help eliminate human error — the cause of most major accidents — and can automatically override dangerous train movements, including stopping a train if the crew cannot, according to transit officials.

The NCTD has already tested the system on nonpassenger trains. The PTC system must be fully implemented by the end of next year under a Congressional mandate.

"Safety is NCTD's top priority," said Eric Roe, deputy chief operations officer of rail systems. "Implementing a system as complex as this does not happen overnight. But with that complexity comes a great leap forward in greater rail safety."

The new system may initially lead to delays at boarding sites and unexpected stops on the rails, according to the NCTD.

But the long-term safety benefits are expected to outweigh the short-term delays. NCTD officials said the new system "will improve railroad safety by significantly reducing the probability of collisions between trains, casualties to roadway workers, and accidents that occur due to speeding."

The planning and implementation of the PCT system is estimated to cost NCTD more than $87 million, with 67 percent of the funding coming through state sources, 30 percent through federal sources and three percent through local source

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