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SMART to start simulated passenger service Friday

The Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit authority is starting simulated passenger service today, another sign that opening day for the long-planned trains may be approaching.

For the simulated service, the trains will make about 30 trips - 15 in each direction - on weekdays along the initial 43-mile line from north Santa Rosa to downtown San Rafael. That will drop to about ?10 trips on weekends.

The simulation will run for at least two weeks, Farhad Mansourian, SMART’s general manager, told city officials meeting Wednesday in San Rafael.

Mansourian said SMART has completed testing of Positive Train Control, which is supposed to automatically monitor speed to reduce the risk of collisions and derailments. He also said all 63 at-grade crossings along the rail line will have met the rail agency’s standards by today.

Mansourian said the simulated testing “will determine our readiness to go to the next level.”

He said SMART will still need approval from the Federal Railroad Administration before starting passenger service.

Mansourian declined to state at Wednesday’s meeting when SMART hopes to begin passenger service. He has previously said late spring.

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