NCTD releases pathing study, creating new opportunities for expansion of rail services

Nov. 13, 2020
The results from the dynamic public-private partnership will deliver significant economic and quality of life benefits to the San Diego region.

A joint-funded study was released by the North County Transit District (NCTD), outlining how to phase the expansion of passenger and freight rail services along the Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo (LOSSAN) rail corridor.

In a typical year, the LOSSAN rail corridor moves approximately $1 billion of freight and more than eight million rail passengers.

The San Diego Pathing Study final report (Pathing Study) draws on previous optimization studies completed by NCTD and other LOSSAN stakeholders and supports efforts to holistically consolidate freight and passenger rail service needs into one executable operating plan, which also aligns with the goals of the 2018 California State Rail Plan. Additionally, the Pathing Study identifies and prioritizes specific infrastructure improvements that would increase service capacity in the near-, mid- and long-term future. This implementation blueprint would assist NCTD and its rail partners in growing service along a corridor that is currently bottlenecked by single track and other infrastructure deficiencies.

“The collaboration on this important study by NCTD and its freight partner represents the best example of a win-win in public-private partnerships,” said Tony Kranz, NCTD Board chair and Encinitas councilmember. “We look forward to applying this framework in our capital project planning. We expect these findings will translate into improved passenger and freight services that support our efforts to increase rail service frequencies, improve our rider experience and improve our economy and overall quality of life.” 

The Pathing Study will provide a host of benefits to the broader San Diego and Southern California region including, but not limited to: 

  • Expanding COASTER service to the Downtown San Diego Convention Center, which serves as a major entertainment and employment hub for the region;
  • Extending service to a new Amtrak maintenance facility in National City that will aid LOSSAN Pacific Surfliner operations; 
  • Increasing freight services along the LOSSAN corridor to five roundtrips per day as part of the prioritized mid-term improvements; and
  • Minimizing rail crossing delays by extending signaling and Positive Train Control to improve rail speed and coordination with rail crossing gates.

With the completion of the San Diego Pathing Study, NCTD and its rail partners will work together with the San Diego Association of Governments, LOSSAN Corridor Agency, California State Transportation Agency and other key stakeholders to identify approximately $380 million to implement the prioritized mid-term improvements, and an additional $700 million to implement all phases of investment over the long-term planning horizon while advancing state and national economic, transportation and environmental goals.