County Asks to Use Union Pacific Track

The Ventura County Transportation Commission voted unanimously Friday to ask Union Pacific Railroad for use of some of its track, a request aimed at connecting rail service in Oxnard and Camarillo to destinations in Los Angeles County.

Details of the offer were not made public pending Union Pacific approval, which is expected by early next week.

"I expect they'll make their decision fairly quickly," said Mary Travis, the commission's manager of rail operations. "They're as anxious to hear from us as we are to hear from them."

For the past several months, the commission and Union Pacific have been negotiating a contract to continue Metrolink service on a 20-mile stretch of track that connects Oxnard and Camarillo to points farther south.

Those negotiations repeatedly broke down over money issues and threatened to sever Metrolink service to those communities.

The Transportation Commission claimed that Union Pacific was asking an exorbitant amount for use of the track.

Union Pacific was asking that the commission pay $430,000 a year to use the track plus a $6.10-per-mile maintenance fee, payable each time a train used the track.

However, negotiations were put back on track late last month after Dean Dunphy, secretary of the California Business, Transportation and Housing Agency, helped both sides reach a tentative agreement.

Union Pacific officials refused to comment on the commission's vote, pending a review of the offer.

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