Featured Image: Construction crews in October 2021 drop riprap on the sea side of the railroad track in south San Clemente. Photo: Fred Swegles
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to include additional comments from Metrolink.
By Shawn Raymundo and Collin Breaux
Train services from Metrolink and the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner between South Orange County and Oceanside will be suspended until further notice beginning Friday, Sept. 30, the agencies announced late Thursday afternoon.
The suspension of service comes after Metrolink reported movement on the rail line in south San Clemente earlier this month. Metrolink said in its announcement that there has been continued movement on the right of way.
“Working with geologists, geotechnical engineers, and surveyors, we have determined to ensure passenger safety service suspension is necessary,” Metrolink said in its announcement. “Until we have confirmation from the experts the slope movement has stopped, we will not resume Metrolink service.”
Amtrak said that “regular service will resume once the repairs are completed.”
Metrolink’s service is halted between the Laguna Niguel/Mission Viejo station and the Oceanside station. There will be no alternative transportation provided by Metrolink.
The Amtrak Pacific Surfliner is suspended between the Irvine station and the Oceanside station, with no stops in San Juan Capistrano or the San Clemente Pier. Bus connections will be provided between Irvine and Oceanside.
In an emailed statement on Friday morning, Metrolink spokesperson Scott Johnson said the agency will continue to “monitor the area and, if needed, will take additional steps to protect the rail infrastructure.”
Alert: Until further notice, effective Friday, September 30, Metrolink is suspending OC & IEOC Line service between Laguna Niguel/Mission Viejo and Oceanside due to continued movement to the right of way. Please see link to learn more information. https://t.co/fcm2HnhSVb
— Metrolink (@Metrolink) September 29, 2022
Metrolink had suspended service in the same area a year ago so crews could stabilize the portion of the tracks that sits at the bottom of a bluff—where strong waves routinely crash, leaving the railroad vulnerable to movement.
“Over the past year, Metrolink has placed more the 20,000 tons of rock and boulders along this area to secure the right of way,” Johnson said. “We are working with our partners at OCTA and LOSSAN (the Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo Rail Corridor) on additional mitigations.”
According to Metrolink, Orange County Line trains traveling from the Laguna Niguel/Mission Viejo station and Los Angeles Union Station “will operate as scheduled.” As for the Inland Empire-Orange County Line, all of those trains will continue to run as scheduled between Laguna Niguel/Mission Viejo and San Bernardino.
There are 10 Metrolink Orange County Line trains that operate through San Clemente each weekday, along with an additional four Inland Empire-Orange County Line trains, Johnson said.
“Those 14 Metrolink trains average just over 1,500 daily weekday boardings,” Johnson said in the email, adding, “We truly appreciate the continued ridership of our customers, and we are doing everything we can to ensure safe and dependable passenger rail service.”
Zach Cavanagh contributed to this report.