Bulldozer on tracks
A bulldozer works on the tracks in San Clemente. Courtesy LOSSAN agency

Amtrak service from Irvine south to San Diego has been suspended until further notice for emergency track repairs near the ocean in San Clemente.

The Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo Rail Corridor Agency said Friday consultations with geologists, geotechnical engineers, and surveyors revealed a safety concern along a portion of track in the San Clemente area. Heavy rains from Tropical Storm Kay in mid September reportedly caused hillside instability.

The agency made the decision to immediately suspend service to ensure passenger and crew safety while emergency maintenance is underway to stabilize the track bed.

Cancellations of scheduled Pacific Surfliner trains began shortly after 7 p.m. on Thursday. Officials scrambled to set up connecting bus service.

MetroLink trains between the Laguna Niguel/Mission Viejo Station and Oceanside were also halted until further notice. Freight trains were expected to continue to travel along the route, but at slower speed. North County Transit District COASTER service is not affected.

There was no official estimate of how long the the repairs would take, but one media report said it could be as long as two months.

“Passenger and crew safety is our top priority, and we are doing our best to minimize disruptions to travelers to and from San Diego,” said Jason Jewell, interim managing director of the LOSSANagency.

“We are working with our partners to restore service between Oceanside and San Diego as well as set up bus bridges between Irvine and Oceanside as quickly as possible,” he said.

Updated schedules and passenger information will be provided on the Pacific Surfliner website.

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.