Pacific Surfliner in Orange County
The Pacific Surfliner in Orange County where the tracks shifted after Hurrican Kay. Courtesy OCTA

Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner trains will resume running north of Oceanside on weekends as emergency repairs have now stabilized the tracks along the coast in San Clemente.

Passenger rail service was suspended between Irvine and Oceanside on Sept. 30 after officials noticed movement of the tracks and the adjacent hillside in the aftermath of Hurricane Kay. Freight service was allowed to continue.

Trains will again operate between Oceanside and Irvine on Saturdays and Sundays starting Feb. 4. 

Repair work will continue during weekdays, with full service on the route expected to be restored by the end of March.

The work has involved drilling large steel anchors more than 130 feet long into the bedrock of the slope adjacent to the railroad track to prevent it from pushing the track further toward the ocean. The track had moved as much as 28 inches between September 2021 and September 2022 because of storm surge and sand erosion on the coastal side and the gradually sliding hillside on the other. 

Throughout the track closure, Amtrak has operated shuttle buses between Irvine and Oceanside to maintain vital connections between San Diego and Los Angeles.

“The safety of our passengers and crew is our top priority, and I want to thank our customers for their patience during this extended track closure,” said Jason Jewell, managing director of the Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo Rail Corridor Agency. “We’re excited to resume weekend Pacific Surfliner train service between Los Angeles and San Diego.”

As a result of recent storms, tracks are closed north of Goleta for repairs and construction, with bus service providing connections to San Luis Obispo and the Bay Area. Train service is anticipated to be fully restored north of Los Angeles the week of Feb. 13.

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