Official with Metrolink on Thursday night described several measures – from less train bell ringing to reduce noise and increased use of electric power to cut locomotive emissions – the commuter rail service has adopted at its Cypress Park maintenance yard in response to community complaints and concerns about air and noise pollution. However, some residents of Cypress Park and Elysian Valley expressed disappointment that Metrolink has not committed to undertaking a study of the health risks posed by the maintenance facility that services more than 30 locomotives on weekdays only a few hundred feet from homes.
The meeting at the Los Angeles River Center provided the most recent update about how Metrolink is responding to requests to reduce noise and emissions at the rail maintenance center in Cypress Park across the Los Angeles River from Elysian Valley. On week days, about 33 Metrolink locomotives descend on the yard after their morning runs for about 45 minutes to an hour of testing and maintenance before they return to service in the afternoon.
In recent months, Metrolink has started a “plug-in program” that allows the trains to run on electric power instead of idling and running on diesel power when they are being serviced. About 25% of the engines are now plugged in during their time at the yard but Metrolink eventually wants all trains to be plugged in while at the yard.
The agency has also adopted a policy that required train operators to ring warning bells only when trains begin moving or in the case of an emergency. That changed – adopted in January – had reduced the sound of clanging bells by about 70%.
Metrolink is also looking for funds to purchase new locomotives that would generate less air pollution as well as installing “hood technology,” which would capture a large amount of the emissions from the trains as they idle in the yard. In addition, the agency is exploring the possibility of planting more trees and using other natural materials to help reduce noise in surrounding neighborhoods.
However, Metrolink once again resisted calls for the agency to conduct a health risk assessment of the facility. Some people at the meeting, according to one who was present, said such a position was “disrespectful” to the community.
Metrolink said the the Southern California Air Quality Management District is better suited to assess the impact of the rail yard on air quality.
It is our understanding they intend to have a monitoring station in this neighborhood and they plan to begin this study in the very near future,” Metrolink said in a statement. “We believe we should allow the experts, AQMD, to proceed with their studies.