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Transportation and Mobility

Unstable Hillsides Curtail Train Travel On Busy Amtrak And Metrolink Routes In OC, San Diego

A train runs along the California coast a short distance from the ocean.
Amtrak Surfliner arrives at the San Clemente Pier
(Jonathan George/Getty Images
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Starting immediately, Metrolink and Amtrak are suspending train service for parts of Orange County because an unstable hillside and concerns over passenger safey.

What's going on? Geologists, engineers, and surveyors are focused on a right of way in the San Clemente area. For Pacific Surfliner trains — that means no train service between Irvine and San Diego.

Is it serious? Yes. Officials say they stopped service because it was necessary to "passenger safety." And there's no immediate end in site: "Until we have confirmation from the experts the slope movement has stopped, we will not resume Metrolink service."

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OK, what's affected?

  • If you take the Orange County line, it will operate as scheduled between the Laguna Niguel/Mission Viejo Station and L.A.'s Union Station.
  • The Inland Empire Line will run from San Bernardino to Laguna Niguel.
  • Amtrak plans to set up train service between Oceanside and San Diego, and bus connections to and from Irvine and Oceanside. Regular service will resume once repairs are completed.

What's going on? Erosion. As the San Diego Reader noted earlier this year:

"Since 2018, at least six bluff failures have occurred in the Del Mar Bluffs area just north of San Diego, California, resulting in temporary closures on the railroad tracks that traverse the area and speed restrictions on Amtrak's high-volume Pacific Surfliner route 1."