Surf Liner Closure From San Diego to Orange County Frustrates Travelers

NBC Universal, Inc.

The second busiest train corridor in the country hit a major speedbump this week.

The only passenger rail line between San Diego and Los Angeles has been suspended because of unstable slopes along the railroad tracks that run through San Clemente.

Officials said it has become too dangerous to continue train service through the area, and California has declared a state of emergency to make repairs. Amtrak has suspended the Pacific Surf liner until further notice, but they are still offering a way for people to get to their destinations.

Metrolink has suspended service as well, but has not listed any alternate modes of transportation. Freight trains will continue at a slower speed and when safe.

A communications director with Orange County confirmed that repair work could take approximately 30 to 45 days to complete. BNSF confirmed it was still running trains through the corridor and helped with slope stabilization by supplying rip rap equipment.

Marty Greenstein, a spokesperson for the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA), confirmed the agency declared an emergency. Also, the California Transportation Commission approved emergency funding for repairs to the LOSSAN corridor Tuesday, which stretches 351 miles from San Diego to San Luis Obispo, according to its website.

Passengers at the Oceanside Transit Center described the alternate route that included the train drop-off in Irvine, a bus ride to Oceanside followed by boarding another train to Solana Beach.

Some passengers like Sam Dunnet knew the reason for the emergency repairs.

“I’ve heard a lot about the cliffs and everything like that,” said Dunnet.

Others found out as they boarded the Amtrak-provided bus transporting them to Orange County.

“Who wants to go on that track? No. I’m scared. This is wonderful. I guess we have two buses. We have a lot of people right?” said passenger Jackie Kojac.

Amtrak says it notified all affected customers. But still, there was confusion.

“The thing that upset me the most was last night because I got an email saying that the train was canceled, not changed to a train-bus-train situation. And that put me on hold with Amtrak for a couple of hours,” said passenger Ellen Weisman.

Weisman was trying to get to her brother's 80th birthday celebration in Santa Barbara. She said she hit yet another roadblock when the bus that was supposed to take her to Orange County from the OTC left several passengers behind.

“They did not wait for us to walk from there over to here. I don’t know what that was about but now it's forcing all of us to miss connections,” said Weisman.

Orange County officials have approved a $12 -million project to construct ground anchors that will stabilize the slopes.

“It’s a bump in the road. And it’s frustrating but it impacts a lot of people even worse than it impacts me, and I'm pretty pissed already,” said Weisman.

She still plans to get to Santa Barbara.

“We looked into renting a car but that’s too expensive so. We would have probably been there already if we have,” said Weisman.

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