A View of Metrolink's New "Guardian Fleet" - the Safest in the Nation

At a series of stations throughout Southern California, Metrolink (Southern California Regional Rail Authority, SCAX), the southland’s local commuter rail provider, debuted their new cab and passenger cars. The new equipment, dubbed the “Guardian fleet,” is considered to be the safest in the nation.

Read “IMPACT TESTS OF CRASH ENERGY MANAGEMENT PASSENGER RAIL CARS: ANALYSIS AND STRUCTURAL MEASUREMENTS (IMECE2004-61252) [November 13, 2004]” by Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, US Department of TransportationThe new cars were designed and built in Korea by Hyundai Rotem, a railroad equipment and systems manufacturer since 1964. What makes these cars so special and safe are the fact that they contain the cutting-edge in crash energy management (CEM) technology. The technology includes energy-absorbing retractable couplers, crumples zones, and interior improvements that decrease the forces involved during a collision. This technology is very similiar to the technology available in most modern automobiles today.

Here is a video that shows the cars, having recently arrived at Long Beach Harbor from Korea, still wrapped in shipping material and describes the technology in lay terms. The video is narrated by Keith Millhouse, Moorpark City Councilmember and Board Chairman for Metrolink. (Not the best produced video ever but I am glad it is available): 


Here is another video (more of an slideshow with audio but very good nonetheless and thanks to AmtrakSurfliner768!), that details the cars a little more and provides some background information on the need for cars such as these:


For those of your interested, here is a video showing the cars being unloading at the Port of Long Beach:


As a rail advocate and daily commuter on Metrolink, I was happy to be extended an opportunity to get a VIP tour of the new equipment as the result of a contest that Metrolink held via Twiiter. So I took a day off of work and Deb and I attended the “Whistle Stop Tour” at the famed San Bernardino Depot which is the eastern most terminus for Metrolink.

After finding a parking spot and grabbing something to eat, Deb and I crossed the street and made our way to the depot. Already in place was a Metrolink consist with 2 locomotives on the head-end and three of the new cars — two regular passenger cars and one cab car. The new cars are predominately stainless-steel, which was a surprise to me, that gives the fleet a taste of the good ol’ domeliner cars of yesteryear (much like the banner photo at the top of this page). The lack of paint which reduces the weight of the cars also affords reduced maintenance costs over the lifetime of the cars. As for the new Metrolink paint scheme, well, who knows, maybe it will grow on me - not a fan!

After poking around a bit and making some introductions, I set about to shoot some photos prior to the official ribbon-cutting ceremony which was preceeded by the requisite speeches from local dignitaries and Metrolink management.

Debut of the Guardian Fleet - As part of a multi-stop tour, the newest cars of Metrolink’s “Guardian Fleet”, are staged at the San Bernardino Depot for a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
[12/8/2010 - San Gabriel Subdivision] © Copyright 2010, Joe Perry
The Business End of SCAX 638 - This is engineer’s end of SCAX 638 which is part of the new “Guardian Fleet” for Metrolink.
[12/8/2010 - San Gabriel Subdivision] © Copyright 2010, Joe Perry

SCAX 638 Debuts - Metrolink’s newest cab car, SCAX 638, waits for the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the San Bernardino Metrolink station.
[12/8/2010 - San Gabriel Subdivision] © Copyright 2010, Joe Perry

SCAX 638 Waits in the Morning Sun - As the morning sun begins to clear the Metrolink San Bernardino depot, Metrolink’s newest cab car 638 waits for the pomp and ceremony to begin.
[12/8/2010 - San Gabriel Subdivision] © Copyright 2010, Joe Perry

Cutting the Ribbon - A host of local dignitaries and Metrolink council members, including John Fenton - Metrolink CEO , far right, are just about to cut the ribbon on the new Guardian Fleet debut at San Bernardino, CA.
[12/8/2010 - San Gabriel Subdivision] © Copyright 2010, Joe Perry

Currently ten cars are planned for immediate use and, according to Metrolink, their board recently approved an additional 20 more cars to be acquired to bring the total to 137 cars which are slated to be fully in service by late 2012. While the inital cars were manufactured in Korea, the balance of the new cars will be assembled at Metrolink’s Eastern Maintenance Facility in Colton, California.

Pristine Nevermore 1 - A view of the interior of the upper deck of Metrolink’s newest cab car, SCAX 638, which will never looks this good again.
[12/8/2010 - San Gabriel Subdivision] © Copyright 2010, Joe Perry

Pristine Nevermore 2 - A view of the interior of the upper deck of Metrolink’s newest cab car, SCAX 638, which will never looks this good again.
[12/8/2010 - San Gabriel Subdivision] © Copyright 2010, Joe Perry

At one point I was granted access to the cab car to have a look around and grab a few shots. I was impressed by the appearance of the interior and pleased to see that they raised the height of the seat backs. The interior seems roomy and well lit and it has that “new car” smell!

I can’t wait for these new cars to arrive on the San Bernardino line! Good job Metrolink - now how about WiFi? ;-)

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References (3)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.
  • Source
    INTRODUCTION As part of the Federal Railroad Administration’s Equipment Safety Research Program, a series of full-scale impact tests are currently being conducted. The purpose of this program is to propose strategies for improving occupant protection under common impact conditions.
  • Source
    At the request of Metrolink, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and American Public Transportation Association (APTA), decided to form the ad hoc Crash Energy Management (CEM) Working Group in May 2005. This group developed recommendations for including crush zones in rail passenger cars for Metrolink to include in its procurement specification.
  • Source
    Los Angeles – Metrolink, Southern California’s passenger rail provider, unveiled its new state-of-the-art cab and passenger rail cars equipped with collision-absorption technology at a series of stops as part of Whistle Stop Tour across Metrolink’s five-county service area. Scheduled stops include: LA Union Station, Glendale, Moorpark, San Bernardino, Downtown Riverside, Irvine and Santa Ana. The events will be attended by Metrolink board and staff leadership, members of the public, media...

Reader Comments (2)

I really like your HDR images. It's a completely different palette, quite painterly. I'm intrigued by the possibilities. I've always tried to incorporate the fullest possible range into my color photography since I switched from black and white film to digital color back in 2004, but your work takes that a step or two further in a very nice direction!

December 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Styffe

Thanks David! I am just getting into this HDR stuff and yes, it is full of possibilities. I am still learning the nuances of taking successful HDR shots and what effects/style I like best. In the upcoming weeks I will be posting a comparative of different effects on one photo for comments.

BTW - I have always enjoyed your work! Thanks for stopping by.

December 15, 2010 | Registered CommenterJoe Perry

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