Fifteen months after transportation officials promised a quick solution to the dreaded “ghost train” – the phenomenon when the arms go down at the Del Obispo Street railroad crossing but no train passes – a slight fix may finally be on its way.
Jennifer Bergener, director of rail programs for the Orange County Transportation Authority, came before the City Council Tuesday night to apologize for the delays, whose causes were several-fold – and to say the best she could promise is a shorter wait for the ghost trains.
“It should be roughly a minute downtime when the trains are sitting at the station. If we can get it down to 45 seconds, we will,” Bergener said. In 2012, she said the average delay was 70 seconds.
The partial fix is only 90 days away, she added. It will come after some additional field studies.
“That’s a very discouraging report,” said Councilman Roy Byrnes.
Councilman Larry Kramer agreed.
“We’re in no better shape than we were three years ago. That’s very disappointing,” he said.
The long-term solution is positive train control, a GPS-guided, computerized system to monitor train travel, Bergener said. But it’s at least two years away.
When the council last heard from OCTA in October 2012, officials promised some relief in about six months’ time. Bergener said the delay was caused by having to find outside consultants because Metrolink did not have the in-house expertise.
In addition, Metrolink’s financial troubles delayed hiring the consultant, Bergener said, adding that all the resources are now in place to lessen the problem in short order.