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Downtown's Angels Flight Railway to reopen

March 11, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Known as the world's shortest railway, downtown L.A.'s Angels Flight Railway will take flight again up and down Bunker Hill soon.The historic rail line was designed to connect Bunker Hill to downtown and was a popular tourist attraction to visitors.

However, in 2001 the site was shut down when a rail car broke loose and rolled backwards, killing an 83-year-old man and injuring seven others.

The National Transportation Safety Board concluded that faulty mechanical and brake systems were the cause.

"We hired the best engineers we could get around the world and built a super strong traditional funicular that goes up and down," said John Welborne, president of Angels Flight Railway. "It doesn't have some of the defects as in the 1995 version."

It has taken nine years, but the California Public Utilities Commission has now approved the safety certificate for the railway to reopen.

"There really has been less of that connection - less of that interchange between the bottom of Bunker Hill and the top of Bunker Hill," said Welborne. "People are going to the stores at the bottom of the hill; they are eating lunch at the top of the hill. They are doing all sorts of things that now, once again, can be a part of downtown Los Angeles daily living."

It's something many are excited to see once again become an important part of downtown.

"Many years ago, back in the 60s, I'd ride it back then when we were little kids. We'll have to come back when it reopens and take another ride," said Nick Trevino, a Los Angeles resident.

If you've ever tried walking the steps to Bunker Hill, then you know how important it is that Angels Flight is opening up again soon.

"I've been told that there are 153 steps, and it's a lot worse going up those steps than it is coming down, but it's no picnic coming down either," Welborne said.

Welborne also said that the price for the ride will still be 25 cents as it was years ago, but it might change in the future.

If all goes according to plan, the once popular rail line will reopen March 15.