Blueprint Released for Passenger, Freight Service Growth in Southern California

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
The 351-mile Los Angeles – San Diego – San Luis Obispo (LOSSAN) rail corridor is the second busiest in the nation, moving about $1 billion in freight and more than 8 million Amtrak and regional/commuter rail (NCTD COASTER and Metrolink) riders in a typical year.

The 351-mile Los Angeles – San Diego – San Luis Obispo (LOSSAN) rail corridor is the second busiest in the nation, moving about $1 billion in freight and more than 8 million Amtrak and regional/commuter rail (NCTD COASTER and Metrolink) riders in a typical year.

California’s North County Transit District (NCTD) has announced the release of the San Diego Pathing Study, outlining how to phase expansion of passenger and freight rail services along the 351-mile Los Angeles – San Diego – San Luis Obispo (LOSSAN) rail corridor. The corridor is the second busiest in the nation, moving about $1 billion in freight and more than 8 million Amtrak and regional/commuter rail (NCTD COASTER and Metrolink) riders in a typical year.

The study’s final report 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,” NCTD said. It also identifies and prioritizes infrastructure improvements that would increase capacity in the near-, mid- and long-term. This “implementation blueprint” will assist NCTD and its rail partners in growing service along a corridor that is “currently bottlenecked by a single track and other infrastructure deficiencies.”

Among the study’s plans (see map below):

  • Expanding COASTER service to the Downtown San Diego Convention Center. 
  • 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.
  • Minimizing rail crossing delays by extending signaling and Positive Train Control (PTC) to improve rail speed and coordination with rail crossing gates. 

NCTD and its rail partners will now work with the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), LOSSAN Corridor AgencyCalifornia 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.” 

“The collaboration on this important study by NCTD and its freight partner [BNSF] 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.”  

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