LOS ANGELES — Passenger rail service between Orange County and San Diego will resume on weekends beginning Feb. 4. Metrolink and Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner had suspended service through San Clemente in late September because coastal erosion had moved the track.
The Orange County Transportation Authority announced Monday that its emergency construction work had successfully stopped the slope from moving. While the Pacific Surfliner is expected to restart in Orange County Feb. 4, Metrolink will operate its weekend passenger service only as far south as the San Clemente Pier.
“Even with the recent heavy rain and high tides, our approach to this project has proven effective in keeping the track from moving,” OCTA Chairman Gene Hernandez said in a statement. “I hope everyone can understand that ensuring passenger safety guides all of our actions.”
Metrolink and Amtrak are allowed to resume weekend service following the installation of 130-foot-long ground anchors drilled into bedrock along 700 feet of railway. The construction is taking place on a privately owned slope between the ocean and homes in the Cyprus Shore Homeowners Association south of San Clemente Pier.
Between September 2021 and September 2022, that section of track had moved as much as 28 inches because of a storm surge that caused the sand to erode on the coastal side of the railway and a hill that had begun to gradually slide. Passenger service was stopped in late September last year “out of an abundance of caution and to allow for the emergency repairs,” OCTA said.
OCTA owns the 40 miles of track that run through Orange County, including the eight-mile stretch next to the Pacific Ocean in Dana Point and San Clemente.
While weekend service will resume Feb. 4, weekday service is not expected to be restored until a second round of ground anchors has been completed. Because that work involves the operation and movement of large construction equipment on and around the tracks, OCTA will not reopen weekday service until the end of March.
Puja Thomas-Patel, a spokesman for the LOSSAN Corridor Rail Agency, said a bus connection will no longer be required for the Pacific Surfliner on Saturdays and Sundays, and weekday service will continue via a shuttle bus connection between Irvine and Oceanside as construction is completed.