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Chicago Trains Get New Warning Chimes

(AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)

Chicago’s Metra train riders have been hearing something new during their commute: a three-note chime. The signal, which was implemented a couple of weeks ago and sounds throughout cars on the train’s 11 lines, alerts train conductors to slow down in lower speed limit areas.

The Chicago Tribune reports there are 17 locations where the speed limit drops by at least 20 miles per hour along routes, and Metra has also included “over-speed” warnings when trains top 83 mph.

The new sound comes after two major train derailments linked by the Federal Railroad Administration to speeding, the latest in May when an Amtrak train came unhinged on a curve in Philadelphia as it sped 56 mph over the speed limit at 106 mph.

The FRA has urged transit agencies to evaluate speeding until they put the federally mandated safety system called positive train control (PTC) in place. That GPS-based system will automatically slow speeding trains, and the FRA is pushing for implementation across the U.S. by the end of 2015. The Tribune reports installing PTC in Metra would run about $350 million. Though mandated by Congress, little funds are there to make it happen, which could lead to some agencies paying major fines.