Amtrak, Metrolink service suspended in south Orange County due to coast erosion

Jessica De Nova Image
Thursday, September 23, 2021
Coastal erosion in OC prompts train service shutdown, track repairs
Coastal erosion in San Clemente may be behind the emergency maintenance temporarily suspending train services in South Orange County.

IRVINE, Calif. (KABC) -- Coastal erosion in San Clemente may be behind the emergency maintenance temporarily suspending train services in South Orange County.

Train passengers heading through south Orange County should check their itineraries.

Aric Liesenfelt was glad he did at the last minute Thursday night.

"Last night at like 2:00 A.M. I checked my email and I saw that my trip had been canceled like randomly," Liesenfelt said.

The last Amtrak stop on his way home to Solana Beach Friday was Irvine.

Metrolink was only going as far south as its Laguna Niguel/Mission Viejo station.

The suspension of services went into effect Thursday, and neither train system will operate between the above mentioned stations and Oceanside until at least October 4 because of emergency repairs on the track beds sitting below the Cyprus Shore community in San Clemente.

Friday, Metrolink spokesperson, Paul Gonzales, said the tracks are shifting here because of the interaction between the sea, sand and earth, making the land underneath unstable.

"That is the movement that was measured by surveyors. We had planned to do some work in the area of track next month, but noticing that this movement had occurred, we decided to move that time table up and begin working right away," Gonzales said. He later clarified that the planned work had nothing to do with this movement and is still going to happen, and said the current work is emergency work.

According to a spokesperson with the Orange County Transporation Authority, the cause behind the shifting tracks was still under investigation Friday.

Over the weekend, Gonzales said at least 65 train carloads of riprap, or large boulders, are going in to provide the tracks with extra support.

Gonzales said this affects about 350 average daily boardings for Metrolink alone, but safety comes first.

"It's not insignificant that these people are being inconvenienced, but it's important for us to address any issues that may affect safety in the future and address them immediately," Gonzales said.

The maintenance left some passengers at the Irvine station looking for options.

William Wilson said no one at Union Station warned him he wouldn't be able to catch a bus in Irvine. Friday, Wilson was left waiting for a train back to Santa Ana from Irvine, in hopes of catching a bus, but his chances weren't good.

"There's nothing outta here going to San Diego and now I gotta go sit up there and wait all night probably because there's no buses going to San Diego that are not full," Wilson said.

Liesenfelt decided to call a Lyft, which Wilson said would be too expensive.

"You know, I kinda just roll with the punches, so it's all good, but yeah it's definitely been an inconvenience for some other people I met on the train," Liesenfelt said.

Gonzales said Metrolink was only informing passengers of the suspended services, but not providing alternate modes of transportation because there weren't enough buses to meet the demand.

According to its website, Amtrak will provide bus services from the Irvine train station starting Monday.