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Thursday, February 19, 2015

BART Gets $5 Million to Improve Safety for Workers

Posted By on Thu, Feb 19, 2015 at 2:11 PM

click to enlarge FLICKR/PAUL SULLIVAN
  • Flickr/Paul Sullivan

BART received a $5 million grant to develop technology that would stop a train automatically if a worker is detected on the tracks.

With the help of UC Berkeley’s Institute of Transportation Studies and the California Public Utilities Commission, BART will develop a cutting-edge system that will link a trackside workers' warning device with trains and the BART Operations Control Center. So if a worker is out on the tracks and does not actively acknowledge a device's warning, the safety system would automatically stop an approaching train before it can enter the worker's safety zone.

BART applied for the Federal Transit Administration grant just one month after a maintenance train near Walnut Creek struck and killed two workers  in October 2013 when workers were on strike. Last May, the family of one of the workers filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the agency.

The new safety feature will also give the transit agency a little more flexibility to run trains at faster speeds through construction zones, meaning there will be fewer delays.

“We have high hopes for this project,” said BART Board President Tom Blalock in a press release. “Not only could it save lives here at BART, but we believe it can also protect track workers at any rail system nationwide once we have successfully demonstrated this technology.”

The new technology should be up and running by Spring 2017, according to BART spokesperson Jim Allison.  
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