California IN BRIEF : ORANGE COUNTY : Power Loss Slows Amtrak Travelers

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Vandalism and an unrelated power outage combined on Friday to slow Amtrak trains along the heavily traveled route between Los Angles and San Diego, delaying thousands of passengers well into the evening, authorities said. About 2,000 passengers who normally take the San Diegan trains were delayed from an hour to 3 1/2 hours at all 10 stations from Los Angeles' Union Station through Orange County to San Diego. Eight trains were delayed, and four were canceled. Several hundred passengers were transported by buses, sent by Amtrak, which stopped at each station. The day's problems began about 1:10 p.m. when a switching control center about five miles north of Del Mar was vandalized. An unrelated power outage struck a centralized traffic control system about 45 minutes later. The problems debilitated all the electronic signals along the 129-mile route, including track switches at many points that are wired to work in unison, a spokesman said. Trains along the route were controlled through radio contact, which slowed their travel to roughly half their usual 90 m.p.h. speed, said Amtrak spokesman Clifford Black in Washington.

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