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President signs rail safety act

It requires high-tech braking systems for certain trains by 2015.

October 17, 2008|Steve Hymon | Times Staff Writer

President Bush signed the Rail Safety Improvement Act on Thursday, requiring that passenger and certain freight trains have high-tech emergency braking systems by 2015.

He also signed a companion measure providing more than $12 billion for Amtrak, which recently reported a record ridership of 28.7 million in fiscal year 2008.

The bill was toughened in the wake of the Sept. 12 Metrolink-Union Pacific freight train crash that killed 25 people and injured 135 in Chatsworth. Metrolink and local freight carriers recently said they would install so-called positive train controls even sooner in the Los Angeles Basin, where commuter trains often share tracks with freight traffic.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the Republican presidential candidate, voted against the bill earlier this month. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), the Democratic candidate, voted for it. Obama's running mate, Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) -- a frequent Amtrak rider -- did not vote.

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steve.hymon@latimes.com

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