Amtrak suspends San Diego-Los Angeles service due to shifting ground

Metrolink also suspends trains because ground underneath stretch of seaside track in southern California has shifted

Metrolink and Amtrak have suspended train services linking San Diego to Los Angeles – along with the rest of the US – because ground underneath a stretch of seaside track in southern California has shifted, according to officials.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported Friday that service has been suspended indefinitely in the community of San Clemente, on the border of Orange and San Diego counties.

The move comes after a recent ocean surge associated with Tropical Storm Kay caused high tides and waves that shifted the coastal tracks. The tracks serve as the only viable link that connects San Diego with LA and the rest of the country, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.

The tracks are part of the 351-mile Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo Rail Corridor, also known as the Lossan Corridor, which serves as the US’s second busiest intercity passenger rail corridor.

Last year, the community faced a similar problem, and officials shut the tracks down for two weeks. Workers brought in additional boulders to help shore up the coastline, which has been eroding amid the ongoing global climate crisis.

The Orange County Transportation Authority, which owns the tracks, planned to hold a special meeting Monday to discuss potential solutions.

“The emergency plan will likely involve driving large ground anchors into the bottom of the slope next to the track to prevent movement,” OCTA spokesperson Eric Carpenter told the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Metrolink said service will remain suspended “until we have confirmation from the experts the slope movement has stopped”.

“Unfortunately, continued movement to the right of way in the San Clemente area is forcing Metrolink to suspend Orange County Line and Inland Empire-Orange County Line service south of the Laguna Niguel/Mission Viejo Station beginning Friday and until further notice,” Metrolink said in a statement on Thursday.

It added: “Working with geologists, geotechnical engineers, and surveyors, we have determined to ensure passenger safety service suspension is necessary. Until we have confirmation from the experts the slope movement has stopped, we will not resume Metrolink service.”

In an email to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Metrolink spokesperson Scott Johnson said that the company has placed over 20,000 tons of rock and boulders along the tracks to secure the right of way.

Amtrak released a similar statement, saying, “This is a temporary track closure in San Clemente that will allow crews to repair and strengthen areas near the tracks – a team of geologists and engineers noticed a need for repairs after recent storms.

“We plan to run modified service while repairs are made.”

That may take several weeks, Amtrak’s statement added.

Amtrak also said it is working to provide train service through a partner with connecting bus service to cover the route. According to Amtrak, train service between Oceanside and San Diego will resume next week with a bus bridge connecting Oceanside and Irvine.

Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner trains have an annual ridership of nearly 3 million passengers while Coaster and Metrolink commuter trains see up to 5 million riders each year, according to the Orange County Transportation Authority.


Maya Yang

The GuardianTramp

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