Caltrans Issues Emergency Declaration for Orange County Landslide Disrupting Passenger Rail Service


District: Headquarters 
Contact: Edward Barrera

Sacramento ― Caltrans today issued an emergency declaration (DOCXfor the recent landslide in San Clemente that halted passenger train service on a portion of the nation’s second-busiest intercity rail corridor. The emergency declaration, signed by Caltrans Director Tony Tavares, allows the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), which owns the rail line, to access up to $10 million in immediate emergency repair funding.

“This section of rail is vital to the economic prosperity of the entire Southern California region and provides critical commuter, intercity and freight rail service every day. This emergency declaration will give OCTA the immediate funding needed to fix this landslide and get the trains moving again as quickly and safely as possible.”

Tony Tavares, Caltrans Director
The landslide occurred Jan. 24 and affects Amtrak service along the Pacific Surfliner route, as well as the local Metrolink commuter train services. OCTA and Metrolink have begun significant grading and excavating work on the area near the Mariposa Pedestrian Bridge, though the slope remains unstable and there is no current estimate for when passenger service will resume. 
Freight trains have used the rail at drastically reduced speeds (10 mph) during late night hours when crews aren’t working.
Currently, passenger trains are stopped between the San Juan Capistrano and Oceanside stations. Passengers are being bused between the two. 
This section of track is part of the 351-mile LOSSAN (San Luis Obispo-to-San Diego) corridor that includes 41 stations and more than 150 daily passenger trains, with an annual ridership of nearly 3 million on Amtrak Pacific Surfliner intercity trains and 5 million on Metrolink and COASTER commuter trains. One in every nine Amtrak riders in the country uses the corridor, the busiest state-supported Amtrak route.
Because of its unique location along the California coastline, the LOSSAN corridor is at heightened risk from coastal erosion, sea-level rise and other impacts from extreme weather events fueled by climate change. The California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) has convened a LOSSAN Working Group to support corridor-wide coordination to identify and quickly respond to emerging issues and opportunities to improve service.
Today’s emergency declaration denotes that Caltrans believes this situation is a matter of state concern and that immediate work and remedial measures are required to alleviate, repair, and restore the damage to the tracks. The California Transportation Commission provides the emergency funding.
Visit OCTA's San Clemente Track Closure web page for the latest updates

Gallery: San Clemente landslide between Irvine and Oceanside