Metrolink Chief Executive Officer John E. Fenton, who led the agency in the wake of a deadly 2008 crash in Chatsworth that killed 25 people, announced his resignation Monday.
Fenton told employees at an afternoon all-staff meeting that he accepted a position heading Patriot Rail Corp. in Florida, where he will be closer to aging parents and other family, according to Metrolink spokeswoman Sherita Coffelt.
Fenton, a longtime transportation executive, took over Metrolink in April 2010. He is widely credited with pushing forward a $200 million effort to improve the 512-mile rail system's safety through the use of Positive Train Control technology.
The system monitors and controls train movements remotely, preventing train-to-train collisions, unauthorized train movement into a work zone and trains exceeding authorized speeds. Metrolink is on track to complete the system by mid-2013, becoming the first commuter rail agency in the nation to use PTC.
Fenton also enacted the agency's first express train service for commuters between Los Angeles and the Antelope, Santa Clarita and San Gabriel valleys.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich called Fenton's departure a "major loss" for Metrolink's riders.
"He was the right leader to guide Metrolink through the most critical time in its history following the Chatsworth crash," Antonovich said. "His hands-on leadership style, vast railroad industry knowledge, private-sector approach and laser focus on safety was a breath of fresh air.
"More importantly, he restored the public's faith in Metrolink as a safe and convenient alternative to freeway traffic congestion throughout Southern California," Antonovich said.