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Metrolink expands in OC

The Santa Ana train station begins to come to life in the glow of the predawn light. The station is just one hub in an expanding Metrolink system in Orange County, where transportation officials report an 8% rise in ridership from last year. Their goal by 2009 is to have commuter trains running every 30 minutes from 5 a.m. to midnight weekdays between Fullerton and Laguna Niguel. (Mark Boster / LAT)
Metrolink conductor Dennis Harmon checks to make sure the gangway is clear for a northbound train headed to Union Station in Los Angeles. (Mark Boster / LAT)
A Metrolink train leaves the Santa Ana station, heading north to Union Station in Los Angeles. Says one recent Orange County convert to commuting by rail: “It beats driving a car and fighting freeway traffic.” (Mark Boster / LAT)
Filiberto Bernal works during his 108-mile one-way commute from Rancho Bernardo in San Diego County to his job at Southern California Edison in Commerce. Unlike many bus riders, he acknowledges, he can always choose to drive his car and occasionally does. (Mark Boster / LAT)
Riders settle into their routine of sleeping, eating, reading and catching up with work on their laptops. This northbound train originated in Oceanside and will complete its journey in Los Angeles. (Mark Boster / LAT)
Mission accomplished: Passengers exit a Metrolink train at Union Station in Los Angeles. (Mark Boster / LAT)
The latest addition to the rail system in Orange County is a station in Buena Park that is scheduled to open Tuesday. (Mark Boster / LAT)