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(Southern California Regional Rail Authority)
Locale Southern California
Transit type Regional rail
Number of lines 7
Number of stations 55
Daily ridership 47,600[1]
Headquarters Los Angeles
Began operation October 26, 1992
Operator(s) Veolia Transportation
(under contract to the SCRRA)
Reporting marks SCAX
System length 512 mi (824 km)
Track gauge 4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm)

Metrolink is a commuter rail system that serves Southern California.

It was established in 1991 as the Southern California Regional Rail Authority (SCRRA) and service began the following year. From 1990 to 1993, the SCRRA member agencies acquired track and other property in fee title, easement, or through operating rights from the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway (now BNSF Railway), Southern Pacific Railroad (now Union Pacific Railroad) and Union Pacific Railroad. SCRRA member agencies acquired about 200 route miles from Santa Fe for $236 million, over 200 route miles from Southern Pacific for $257 million, and 59 route miles from Union Pacific for $17 million. In 2006, it had an operating budget of $134.8 million. Since July 2005, Metrolink has been operated under contract by Veolia Transport. The contract is for five years and includes the provision of locomotive engineers and conductors. Prior to July 2005, Metrolink was operated under contract by Amtrak. Amtrak will resume operation of Metrolink in July 2010.



New MPI MPXpress diesel locomotive
Metrolink trains approaching and leaving Union Station at evening rush hour.
The old Metrolink logo.
Late afternoon Metrolink train passing Lake Forest.

Metrolink includes lines to Ventura County, Los Angeles County, San Bernardino County, Riverside County, Orange County, and San Diego County. It connects with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Metro Rail lines at Union Station in Downtown Los Angeles, and with the San Diego Coaster and Sprinter at Oceanside. It also connects with Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner, Coast Starlight, Southwest Chief, and Sunset Limited trains. As of early 2007, it served a total of 54 stations on 388 route miles (excluding shared miles) throughout Southern California.

The average weekday ridership for the period from October 2007 through June 2008 was 46,056 boardings.[2] Ridership has grown at 3-4% per year since opening; Orange County ridership grew 30% from 2002 to 2005. [[File::Metrolink_F59PHI_885.jpg]]

Rail lines

Map of the Metrolink system

Metrolink operates commuter trains over seven lines through Southern California.

Metrolink owns other track on which it does not run passenger service; some is planned for future passenger service, while some is used by freight railroads.

Maintenance Facilities


Central Maintenance Facility

A picture taken on the upper level of a Metrolink passenger car.

Metrolink's Central Maintenance Facility (CMF) is on the east bank of the Los Angeles River near the intersection of the 5 and 110 Freeways, just south of the former location of Southern Pacific's Taylor Yard. The facility was constructed in 1992 on 25 acres (100,000 m2) at a cost of $38 million. It provides a 75,000-square-foot (7,000 m2) shop area and 14,000 square feet (1,300 m2) of administrative offices and employee facilities and is operated by Metrolink's equipment maintenance contractor, Bombardier Transportation. The CMF has four functional areas:

  • Service & Inspection: Daily cleaning, inspection for minor repairs, and fueling.
  • Progressive Maintenance: Scheduled light repairs, extensive cleaning and servicing.
  • Shops: Heavy repairs to locomotives and passenger cars as well as required federal inspections.
  • Storage Tracks: Holding area for trains already serviced.

Camp Pendleton Maintenance Facility

Metrolink's Camp Pendleton Facility is located between San Clemente Pier Station and Oceanside Station at near the southwest end of Camp Pendleton. This yard owned by the San Diego Northern Railroad NCTD's COASTER. This facility only serves the Inland Empire-Orange County (IEOC) Line and some of the Orange County Line trains.

Fares and service

Metrolink's Burbank station.

The fare structure on Metrolink is based on driving distance between stations plus a flat fee for boarding the train. Fares are calculated in 25 cent increments between stations. Prior to July 2004, Metrolink fares were based on fare zones radiating outward from Union Station, but a controversial fare restructuring converted fares into the current system.[3] Fare increases are generally done on an annual basis in July to coincide with increased fuel and labor expenses (essentially a fuel surcharge). Fare increases have generally averaged between 3.5% and 5% per year, with some pairs increasing by up to 10% due to the driving distance restructuring. The oil price increases since 2003 are partly to blame for this because Metrolink trains are powered by diesel fuel.

Metrolink's fares are high compared to competing bus service. For instance, a round-trip ticket between Montclair and Downtown Los Angeles is $14.50, compared with $5.00 for competing Foothill Transit - Silver Streak express bus service (via carpool lanes and the El Monte Busway) between the two destinations. Similarly, monthly passes are higher than competing bus systems. Metrolink commuters often cite the train's comfort (eating allowed and restrooms in each car), on-time reliability, speed, and not being subject to poor traffic conditions that even express busses must endure as the reasons they are willing to pay the higher Metrolink fares. A monthly pass for the bus between the Palmdale Transportation Center and Los Angeles Union Station costs $210, compared to $303.50 on Metrolink. (The high fares give Metrolink one of the highest farebox recovery rates of any commuter rail service.) The Antelope Valley Transit Authority justified this competition by noting that, while Metrolink trains are more consistent in their schedule and have more midday and evening service than commuter buses, commuter buses are cheaper to riders, drop riders off at their destination without transfers, can be faster if transfer time is considered, and are more frequent than train service.[4] On the other hand, some of Metrolink's fares are cheaper than Amtrak's. For example, the Metrolink IEOC one-way fare from Oceanside to Santa Ana is $10, whereas the same fare on the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner is $15.

Metrolink riders can ride most buses in Los Angeles and Orange County, as well as the Metro Rail, free with their valid ticket or pass, and monthly pass holders in Orange and Ventura Counties can use Amtrak Pacific Surfliner and Thruway Coach services through the Rail 2 Rail program.

Like many US commuter rail systems, Metrolink lacks substantial off-peak service—a characteristic which may also hurt ridership numbers. Between approximately 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. and between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. there are few trains on most lines, even those (such as the San Bernardino line) that have very high peak-hour ridership. However, Metrolink has added more trains on some lines, especially in Orange County, when Orange County decided to subsidize more service into the county.

Some of these attributes can be ascribed to the structure of Metrolink's governance board, a Joint Powers Authority of the five transportation commissions of the counties in its service area: Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Orange County Transportation Authority, Riverside County Transportation Commission, Ventura County Transportation Commission and San Bernardino Associated Governments (with representatives of the San Diego Association of Governments, the Southern California Association of Governments and the California Secretary of Business, Transportation and Housing Agency as non-voting ex-officio members of the board). Each of the five member agencies funds the portion of service that operates in their county, mostly with local sales tax money, although there are exceptions. Metrolink also occasionally gets some direct funding from the state and federal governments, although this often calls for a delicate act of political balancing as local agencies are concerned that money for Metrolink could instead be used to funds roads and buses in their counties.

Future expansion

Metrolink has grown in popularity in parallel with a rise in gas prices, making it more expensive to drive cars. In addition to higher ridership, station parking capacity has also been strained.[5]

The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) has announced plans to increase frequencies to 76 trains daily on the Orange County and IEOC Lines, [6], and funding for increased Metrolink service was included in the renewal of the Measure M sales tax for transportation approved by the voters in November 2006.[7] However, in 2010, to save money in the face of growing deficits,[8] the Metrolink board voted to reduce mid-day service on the Inland Empire–Orange County Line,[9] as well as weekend service on both the Orange County and IEOC lines.

Future plans also call for line expansions extending the service area. The proposed 91 Line Extension, known officially as the Perris Valley Line, will link Riverside and Perris by 2012,[10] with eventual plans for a Phase II extension further east to Hemet and San Jacinto.[11]

A proposed station in Yorba Linda was canceled in 2005 due to local opposition. Instead, a Placentia Metrolink station is currently in its final design phase to serve the 91 Line's north Orange County passengers. Construction on the Placentia station will begin in 2012/2013;[12] it will be the only station on the 91 Line not shared by another Metrolink line.

In the coming decade, a 9-mile (14 km) eastward extension named the Redlands Corridor is planned to link San Bernardino with Redlands/Mentone.[13] This will not be a true extension of the San Bernandino Metrolink line; instead, the San Bernardino Associated Governments is constructing a multiple-unit service on this route that will operate independently of but coordinated with the San Bernandino Line.

In addition, Los Angeles County-area transit advocates have proposed adding Metrolink service along the Harbor Subdivision corridor, so as to provide Metrolink service to Inglewood, Los Angeles International Airport, the South Bay, the port of Los Angeles, and/or the port of Long Beach. Proponents argue that this could provide direct service between the ports, the South Bay, LAX, and Union Station, and possibly continue into the San Fernando Valley to Burbank Airport, though they also envision that a Metro Rail line could run in the corridor as well.[14] Opponents argue that frequently running, fast-moving trains along busy Slauson Avenue, through a residential area, are potentially dangerous.

In 2008, lobbyists pushed for a rail line to Lake Elsinore in western Riverside County via the 91 Line's La Sierra station.[15] While this proposed line could follow the route of an abondoned freight line, it would require significant money as the old freight line was abondoned almost 30 years ago. Despite this, the Riverside County Transportation Commission's 2008 Commuter Rail Feasibility Study[16] still lists this route as one possibility being considered.

The cities of the Coachella Valley (Palm Springs, Cathedral City, Palm Desert, and Indio) have requested commuter-rail service from Los Angeles and Orange County since before Metrolink trains began running in 1992, but the Union Pacific Railroad opposes further passenger service on its tracks.[17] Nonetheless, as recently as 1999, the Coachella Valley Association of Governments[18] was investigating the possibly of two daily round trips via the 91 Line from Los Angeles's Union Station through Fullerton and Riverside to stations in Palm Springs and Indio (with an intermediate stop at Beaumont/Banning),[19] possibly via a partnership with Amtrak. What effect these might have on the 91 Line's Perris Valley Line (or vice versa) is not discussed. This extension would likewise require significant money for infrastructure improvements: at least $500 million, according to the California State Rail Plan of 2005.[17]

Major accidents

Placentia, April 2002

On April 23, 2002, a BNSF Railway freight train collided head-on with a Metrolink train in Placentia, near the Atwood Junction, at the intersection of Orangethorpe Avenue and Van Buren Street. Both trains were on the same east-west track moving toward one another. The Metrolink had the right-of-way; it was supposed to switch to a southbound track. The BNSF train was supposed to slow and stop just before the switch while the Metrolink passed, but the crew missed a signal one and a half miles back warning them to slow down. By the time the crew saw the red "stop" signal at the switch and the Metrolink train, they were going too fast to avoid a collision. Although there was speculation that the signals alerting the BNSF to slow and stop had malfunctioned, an investigation later concluded that it was human error by the crew that caused the accident. Two people died in the crash and twenty-two were seriously injured.[20]

Glendale, January 2005

On January 26, 2005, a Metrolink passenger train collided with a vehicle parked on the tracks, and as a result derailed and jackknifed, striking a stationary freight locomotive and a Metrolink train moving in the opposite direction in what was then the deadliest train accident in Metrolink's history. Eleven people were killed (including an off-duty sheriff's deputy and a train conductor) and over 100 people were injured, about 40 seriously. The man who parked the vehicle on the tracks, Juan Manuel Alvarez, was apprehended and charged with 11 counts of first-degree murder with special circumstances, including murder by train wrecking. On June 26, 2008, Alvarez was convicted on the 11 murder counts and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Chatsworth (Los Angeles), September 2008

A Metrolink commuter train in the Chatsworth district of Los Angeles carrying 222 persons[21] collided head on with a Union Pacific freight train, toppling one of the passenger cars and the locomotive onto its side. At least 26[22] people were killed, and 135 people were injured, with 81 transported to hospitals in serious or critical condition. The speed of the trains was fast enough that the Metrolink locomotive telescoped halfway into the first passenger car. Authorities announced 26 confirmed deaths in the collision.[23]

Rolling stock

Metrolink fleet consists of 52 locomotives and 171 Bombardier BiLevel Coaches with 117 Rotem Bi-level cars on order. As of March 2010, the cab car portion of the fleet consists of 33 Metrolink owned cab cars and 2 leased from Altamont Commuter Express (ACE). The trailer portion of the fleet includes 103 Metrolink owned trailers, 2 leased from ACE, 10 leased from Utah Transit Authority, and 15 leased from New Jersey Transit.[24]

Most Metrolink owned units are painted in the Metrolink livery, white with periwinkle blue streaks. The agency is currently in the process of rolling out a new blue and green "ribbons" livery, locomotives are being given the new livery during their time in the shops for maintenance and the new Rotem Bi-level cars are coming from the factory with the livery. Leased units can be recognized by their retention of their owner's livery, with Metrolink logos pasted on top of the owner's logos, instead of the standard Metrolink colors.

Model Manufactured Road Numbers Number In Fleet Notes
EMD F59PH 1992-1993 851-873 23 [2]
EMD F59PHI 1994 874-881 8
EMD F59PHI 1995 882, 883 2 [3]
EMD F59PHI 2001 884-887 4 [4]
EMD F40PH 1981 800 1 [5][6]
MPI MPXpress MP36PH-3C 2008-2009 888-902 15 [7]
Passenger Cars
Bombardier BiLevel Generation 1 1992-1993 101-163 62
Bombardier BiLevel Generation 2 1997 164-182 18 [8]
Bombardier BiLevel Generation 3 2002 183-210 26 [9]
Bombardier BiLevel Generation 3 2000-2003 2210, 2213, 2231, 2232, 2237-2240 8 [10][11][12]
Bombardier BiLevel Generation 2 1996 ACEX 3202, 3203 2 [13]
Cab Cars
Bombardier BiLevel Generation 1 1992-1993 601-631 30 [14]
Bombardier BiLevel Generation 2 1997 632-637 6 [15]
Bombardier BiLevel Generation 3 2000-2003 6104, 6106-6108 4 [16][17][18]
Bombardier BiLevel Generation 2 1996 ACEX 3303, 3304 2 [19]

Fleet notes

  • ^ Part of the canceled Marlboro train project.
  • ^ Part of a canceled VIA Rail Canada order.
  • ^ Used as a spare, for special events, switching, and for work trains.
  • ^ 4 units purchased from Amtrak, 3 later sold.
  • ^ Ordered by Metrolink in early 2006, with the first one (888) being delivered in April 2008. By mid-2009 all units were delivered.
  • ^ #184 was wrecked en route from the factory, number was retired; #197 was involved in the Glendale accident.
  • ^ #634 was involved in a head-on collision in Orange County and has been retired.
  • ^ Generation 1 cab cars have only one window on the front of the car.
  • ^ Generation 3 cars have smooth sides without rivets and power ports at most seats.
  • ^ Cars were renumbered. Example: SNDX 210 became SCAX 2210.
  • ^ #855 was involved in the Chatsworth wreck and has been removed from service.

See also


  1. ^ American Public Transportation Association, Light Rail Transit Ridership Report, Third Quarter 2008.
  2. ^ "Fact Sheet" (PDF). Metrolink. June 2008. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ AVTA Long Range Plan 2005, page 36
  5. ^ Reyes, David (July 5, 2008). "Metrolink growth strains station parking capacity". The Los Angeles Times.,0,5218936.story. Retrieved 2008-07-07. 
  6. ^ News: Metrolink daily O.C. service to nearly double -
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ Perris Valley Line
  11. ^ Perris Valley Line
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ a b
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ "Railroad Accident Report- Collision of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Freight Train With Metrolink Passenger Train- Placentia, California- April 23, 2002" (PDF). National Transportation Safety Board. 2003-10-07. Retrieved 2005-11-22. 
  21. ^ "Commuters killed in head-on train crash". KABC-TV. 2008-09-12. Retrieved 2008-09-12. 
  22. ^ "Death toll from L.A. train collision reaches 26". AP. 2008-09-13. Retrieved 2008-09-13. 
  23. ^ Hymon, Steve; Oldham, Jennifer; Simmons, Ann M. (2008-09-16). "L.A. train crash death toll at 26". Chicago Tribune.,0,3604846.story. Retrieved 2008-09-16. 
  24. ^

External links


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