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San Clemente Rail Closure Daily Update: Thursday, Feb. 1 State Emergency Declared

OCTA requested and received an official emergency declaration from the State on Thursday, allowing OCTA to access funds to protect the track and eventually restore passenger service

What’s New:

Today, in response to a letter OCTA CEO Darrell E. Johnson sent earlier in the day to Caltrans Director Tony Tavares, the State issued an official emergency declaration for the landslide threatening the rail line in the City of San Clemente near the Mariposa pedestrian bridge (Milepost 204.2).

This crucial declaration by the State will allow OCTA to access up to $10 million in emergency funding toward protecting the track and safely restoring passenger service as soon as possible.

“I’m grateful for the State’s partnership and for recognizing what an important issue this is for regional mobility,” said OCTA CEO Johnson.

The OCTA/Metrolink project team is still analyzing the most appropriate way to address the slope movement and to protect the track. Though minimal, hillside movement continues to be recorded and, with the ongoing heavy rain, there is still no definitive timetable for passenger rail service to resume at this point.

In response to the emergency declaration, Metrolink CEO Darren Kettle said: “We appreciate the prompt response from Director Tavares and the belief from Caltrans that this situation is a matter of state concern. It is only through these collective partnerships that we will be able restore Metrolink service to and from Oceanside, along with Amtrak Pacific Surfliner service to and from San Diego.”

Today, as heavy rains swept across Southern California, the OCTA and Metrolink project team continued to monitor and inspect the emergency area, observing soil movement at a reduced rate. Field personnel will continue efforts to ensure the extensive storm-water mitigation measures, including plastic tarps on the slope and improved drainage, remain effective through the additional storms expected in coming days.

With those efforts, BNSF will once again be allowed to operate freight through the area at 10 mph between 9 tonight and 3 a.m. Friday.

For Updates on Rail Service: Passengers are asked to check and for real-time updates.

Background: The rail line was closed through San Clemente the evening of Wednesday, Jan. 24, when a landslide on private property above the city-owned Mariposa Trail Pedestrian Bridge caused major damage to the bridge and scattered debris onto the track.

OCTA, which owns the track, worked with partners at Metrolink and contractors to quickly mobilize emergency crews, who used heavy machinery on the rails to remove debris and haul away two large spans of the bridge, each weighing 24,000 pounds.

Over the past three years, San Clemente’s eroding bluffs – on both city and private property – have repeatedly forced the closure of the rail line which has operated largely uninterrupted for more than 125 years. For more updates and background, visit

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