Trains to run through San Clemente starting July 17

July 12, 2023
Train service has been disrupted since late April after the slope below Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens in San Clemente began to slide.

Starting July 17, passenger trains will be able to use the track through San Clemente, Calif., following construction of a temporary barrier wall to protect the track from debris and dirt from an unstable slope above.

Metrolink and Pacific Surfliner trains have not consistently operated on this section of track since April 27 when the slope below Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens became unstable and dropped 20 feet. Train service resumed briefly in late May after the city of San Clemente performed emergency repairs that included removal of excess soil and reshaping the slope to reduce the chance of additional material sliding down on the rail line. However, a second slide in June sent debris and dirt into the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) owned right of way and rail service was again halted.

Freight trains continued to use the line under a slow order where trains operated at 10 mph. Passenger rail providers, including Metrolink and LOSSAN Rail Corridor Agency, suspended service “out of an abundance of caution.”

While the city of San Clemente is working to stabilize the slope for the long term, Metrolink and OCTA partnered to construct the temporary barrier wall. The temporary barrier wall is 250 feet long and 12 feet high, with piles set 32 feet beneath the ground. A report in the San Diego Union-Tribune included the cost of the service disruption was between $5.5 million and $6 million, which will be covered by OCTA funding and a $3 million allocation from the California Transportation Commission.

OCTA, Metrolink and the LOSSAN Rail Corridor Agency explain the rail line is reopening ahead of summer rail travel season and large events, including Comic-Con in San Deigo and horse racing at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Editor in Chief

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the magazine’s editorial direction and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.