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COUNTYWIDE : Initial Step Taken to Join Rail Agency

Commuters’ dreams of a fast, efficient network of passenger trains linking many Southern California communities moved a bit closer to reality on Monday as officials tentatively agreed to join a new five-county rail agency.

After a lightly attended public hearing at the County Hall of Administration in Santa Ana, the Orange County Transportation Commission voted unanimously to approve a draft plan for county membership in the new Southern California Commuter Rail Coordinating Council. The council will oversee adding trains and routes to the network, with a goal of removing 23,000 one-way trips per day from the freeways by 1995.

The OCTC, which had previously supported both the concept of the planned 468-mile commuter rail network and the regional council, had not until Monday approved the draft plan that assumes it will join the new council.

The regional council will include representatives from Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties, as well as the existing Los Angeles-San Diego Rail Corridor Agency. The rail corridor agency oversees improvements to Amtrak service between San Diego and Los Angeles.

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Final contracts creating the new council, however, won’t be ready to be signed for a few months, said Adrienne Brooks, OCTC rail projects coordinator.

The new rail council will try to standardize passenger car design, fares and station facilities so that each county’s commuter trains are compatible with the others. The council will also attempt to hire a single company to manage the entire commuter rail network, with each county paying a share of the $582 million in start-up expenses and $28 million in annual operating deficits.

In addition to Amtrak service, the regional commuter rail network would consist of these eight lines with fares based on a rate of 8 cents to 12 cents per mile:

* Line 1--Moorpark to Los Angeles.

* Line 2--Santa Clarita to Los Angeles.

* Line 3--San Bernardino to Los Angeles.

* Line 4--Redlands to San Bernardino.

* Line 5--San Bernardino/Riverside to Irvine.

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* Line 6--Riverside (Hemet) to Los Angeles.

* Line 7--Hemet to Riverside.

* Line 8--Oceanside to Los Angeles (with stops in Orange County).


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