Metrolink and Amtrak have suspended train service connecting San Diego to Los Angeles and the rest of the U.S. because of changes to the ground beneath a stretch of waterfront track in Southern California, according to officials.
In the San Clemente community on the border between Orange and San Diego counties, services have been suspended indefinitely, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported Friday.
The move comes after recent high tides and waves caused by tides associated with Tropical Storm Kai have altered coastal orbits. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the tracks are the only viable link between San Diego and Los Angeles and the rest of the United States.
The tracks are part of the 351-mile Los Angeles-Santiago-San Luis Obispo rail corridor, also known as the Lausanne Corridor, the second busiest intercity passenger rail corridor in the United States.
The community faced similar issues last year, with officials shutting down the track for two weeks. Workers have brought in more boulders to help shore up the coastline, which has been eroding amid the ongoing global climate crisis.
The Orange County Transit Authority, which owns the tracks, plans to hold a special meeting Monday to discuss potential solutions.
“Contingency plans may include pushing large ground anchors into the bottom of the ramp next to the track to prevent movement,” OCTA spokesman Eric Carpenter told the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Metrolink said services would remain suspended “until we have confirmation from experts that movement on the slopes has ceased”.
“Unfortunately, the San Clemente area continues to travel to the right, forcing Metrolink to suspend service on the Orange County Line and the Inland Empire-Orange County Line south of the Laguna Niguel/Mission Viejo station beginning Friday until further notice. Notice,” Metrolink said in a statement Thursday.
It added: “Working with geologists, geotechnical engineers and surveyors, we have determined that it is necessary to suspend passenger safety services. We will not resume Metrolink services until we have confirmation from experts that slope movement has ceased.”
Metrolink spokesman Scott Johnson said in an email to the San Diego Union-Tribune that the company has placed more than 20,000 tons of rocks and boulders along the track to secure the right of way.
Amtrak issued a similar statement, Say “This is a temporary track closure in San Clemente that will allow crews to repair and strengthen areas near the track – a team of geologists and engineers noted that repairs were needed after recent storms.
“We plan to run the modified service when repairs are made.”
This could take weeks, the Amtrak statement added.
Amtrak also said it is working to provide train service through a partner, as well as a connecting bus service to cover the route. Train service between Oceanside and San Diego will resume next week with a bus bridge connecting Oceanside and Irvine, according to Amtrak.
Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner trains carry nearly 3 million passengers a year, while Coaster and Metrolink commuter trains carry up to 5 million passengers a year, according to the Orange County Transit Authority.