Heavy equipment at tracks
Heavy equipment working along the tracks in San Clemente. Courtesy OCTA

The Orange County Transportation Authority announced Monday that major construction to repair tracks sliding from erosion has started, with passenger service expected to resume in February.

Clearing of vegetation occurred the first week of November, initial grading began on Nov. 10 and major construction is currently underway along 700 feet of railway in San Clemente.

“We are attempting to get this emergency work done as quickly as possible with safety continuing to guide all of our actions,” said OCTA Chairman Mark A. Murphy.

“Like everyone, we want to see Metrolink and Amtrak Pacific Surfliner safely running again through this area,” he said. “At the same time, we need first to ensure the track is no longer moving.”

That work will involve drilling large steel anchors more than 100 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 moved as much as 28 inches between September 2021 and September 2022 due to storm surge and sand erosion on the coastal side and the gradually sliding hillside on the other.

Passenger rail service was halted in late September, but freight trains continue to run on the tracks.


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Ellen Bullock