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Metrolink suspends service to Oceanside to make emergency repairs

Train service has been halted for the next two weeks.
Metrolink commuter trains at a platform at Union Station in Downtown Los Angeles.
(Nick Ut / Associated Press)

An unexpected shift of the railroad tracks near San Clemente has shut down San Diego’s only railway link to Los Angeles and the rest of the United States, one of the busiest corridors in the country, for repairs expected to take three weeks or longer.

Dozens of passenger and freight trains use the route daily. Rail cars serving the Port of San Diego carry 10% of all the imported new cars sold in the United States, along with bulk construction supplies such as wallboard, and large parts for things such as wind turbines.

“The work began today and will continue through at least Oct. 4,” said Paul Gonzales, a spokesman for Metrolink.

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“Between the effects of the sand, the sea and the earth, that section of the track has moved a little bit,” Gonzales said. “We did have plans to work on that section of the track next month, but it became necessary to do it now.”

Trains used the track as recently as Wednesday, he said, and “public safety was never compromised one bit.”

The section of track near San Clemente is one of several places, like Del Mar in San Diego County, where the railroad runs along the beach and is subject to coastal erosion. During the highest tides of the year, waves sometime crash onto the tracks in Orange County.

Freight cars will deliver loads of large rocks, called riprap, in the next few days to reinforce the low-lying section of track being repaired in Orange County, Gonzales said. He had no details on what other repairs may be necessary.

Darren Kettle was most recently the executive director of the Ventura County Transportation Commission.

Amtrak and BNSF trains will only serve as far south as Irvine during the construction, he said. Metrolink trains will operate as far south as the Laguna Niguel/Mission Viejo Station. There will be no alternate bus service to connect to the San Juan Capistrano, San Clemente or Oceanside stations.

Coaster trains operated by North County Transit District between San Diego and Oceanside are not affected by the suspension.

Normally, more than a dozen Metrolink trains from Orange County stop at the Oceanside station, where they pick up an average of 191 passengers daily, Gonzales said.


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