Metrolink (Southern California)

Metrolink (Southern California)
A Metrolink train at Los Angeles Union Station
Locale Southern California
Transit type Commuter rail
Number of lines 7
Number of stations 55
Daily ridership 41,000
Headquarters Los Angeles
Website Metrolink Online
Call Centre 1(800) 371-5465
Began operation October 26, 1992
Operator(s) Amtrak
(under contract to the SCRRA)
Reporting marks SCAX
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
System map


Metrolink is a commuter rail system serving Los Angeles and the surrounding area of Southern California; it currently consists of six lines and 55 stations using 512 miles (824 km) of track.[1]

The system operates in Los Angeles County, San Diego County, Orange County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County and Ventura County.[2] It connects with the Metro Rail system which serves Los Angeles County, with the San Diego Coaster and Sprinter commuter rail services which serves San Diego County and with Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner, Coast Starlight, Southwest Chief and Sunset Limited intercity rail services.[3]

The system, which is overseen by the Southern California Regional Rail Authority (SCRRA), started operation in 1992. Average weekday ridership rose to 41,000 by May 2011.


Rail lines

Metrolink serves Downtown Los Angeles, Bob Hope Airport, California State University, Los Angeles, Angel Stadium, and the San Clemente Pier.[4] Special service has also been extended to the Pomona Fairplex,[5] the Ventura Fairgrounds,[6] and the Auto Club Speedway[6] for certain events. The rail system experiences its peak ridership during weekday mornings and afternoons.[7] More trains operate during the morning between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m. and between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m.[8]

Line[8] Series Termini Operation Routing[2]
     91 Line 700[9] Los Angeles
San Bernardino
Weekdays Southeast from Union Station, then east along the Riverside Freeway.
     Antelope Valley Line 200[10] Los Angeles
Daily Northwest from Union Station, roughly following Interstate 5. Turns east, then north, to parallel State Route 14.
     Inland Empire–Orange County Line 800[11] San Bernardino
Daily Southwest from the Santa Fe Depot to follow the Riverside Freeway west. Turns south to parallel Interstate 5.
     Orange County Line 600[12] Los Angeles
Daily Northwest from the Oceanside Transportation Center along Interstate 5. Deviates slightly from the interstate in north Orange and southeast Los Angeles counties.
     Riverside Line 400[13] Los Angeles
Weekdays Northwest from the Downtown Riverside Metrolink / Amtrak station, eventually paralleling State Route 60.
     San Bernardino Line 300[14] Los Angeles
San Bernardino
Daily West from the Santa Fe Depot between Interstate 10 and Interstate 210. Runs in the Interstate 10 median starting near El Monte.
     Ventura County Line 100[15]
Los Angeles
Weekdays East from the Montalvo Metrolink station roughly following State Route 118. Turns south at Bob Hope Airport towards Union Station. Trains with 900-series numbers run between Union Station and Bob Hope Airport.


A monthly pass

Metrolink's fare structure is based on a flat fee for boarding the train and an additional cost for distance with fares being calculated in 25-cent increments between stations.

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, Los Angeles, and Ventura Counties can use Amtrak Pacific Surfliner and Thruway Coach services through the Rail 2 Rail program.[17]

Fare increases normally occur annually in July, to coincide with increased fuel and labor expenses, and have generally averaged between 3.5% and 5% per year (although the restructuring caused a larger jump in rates).[18] The oil price increases since 2003 are partly to blame for consistently increasing fares, as Metrolink trains are powered by diesel fuel.[19]


Metrolink trains approaching and leaving Union Station during the evening rush hour

The member agencies of the SCRRA purchased 175 miles of track, maintenance yards, and stations and other property from Southern Pacific for $450 million in 1990. The rights to use Los Angeles Union Station were purchased from Union Pacific for $17 million in the same year.[20][21] The Authority was formally founded in 1991.[22] It began operation of the Ventura, Santa Clarita, and San Bernardino Lines on October 26, 1992 (the Santa Clarita Line later became the Antelope Valley Line)[23] which were operated by Amtrak.

In 1993 service was expanded to include the Riverside and Orange County Lines in 1994. The Inland Empire-Orange County Line opened in 1995, becoming the first suburb to suburb commuter rail line in the country. In 1995 more trains on the Orange County service were funded.[24] The system gained its current form in 2002 with the addition of the 91 Line.[25]

From July 2004, Metrolink fares were changed from zone based to one based on distance. In 2005 a five year operational contract was awarded to Connex Railroad/Veolia Transport. In 2005, the Orange County Transportation Authority approved a plan to increase frequencies to 76 trains daily on the Orange County and Inland Empire-Orange County Lines by 2009,[26] and funding for increased Metrolink service was included in the renewal of the Measure M sales tax for transportation approved by voters in November 2006.[27] A proposed station in Yorba Linda was canceled in 2005 due to local opposition.

In July 2008 it was announced that ridership had risen 16% over the previous year.[28][29] Following the 2008 Chatsworth train collision in which 26 people died and 126 were injured a number of safety measures were taken; in the fall of 2009, inward-facing video cameras were installed in locomotives in order to ensure that staff were complying with regulations, in particular a ban on use of mobile phones,[30] $200million of funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was provided to implement the positive train control' crash avoidance system[31] and in 2010 the first of 117 energy absorbing passenger carriages which lessen the toll on passengers in the case of an accident were received by the operator.[32] Amtrak regained the contract to operate Metrolink beginning in July 2010.[33] Average weekday ridership for the fourth quarter of 2009 was 38,400.[28]

In 2010, to save money in the face of funding cuts, the Metrolink board voted to reduce mid-day service on the Inland Empire–Orange County Line, as well as weekend service on both the Orange County and Inland Empire–Orange County lines.[34]

Average weekday ridership is 41,000 by May 2011. A survey found that 90% of users during a typical weekday in 2009 would have previously driven alone or carpooled and the system replaced an estimated that 25,000 vehicle trips.[1] During a weekend closure of the Interstate 405 (California) in July 2011 the system recorded its highest-ever weekend ridership of 20,000 boardings which was 50% higher than the same weekend in 2010 and 10% higher than the previous weekend ridership record which occurred during U2 360° Tour in June 2011.[35]


Metrolink has grown in popularity and there are a number of planned extensions of the system and new stations. Station parking capacity has also been strained.[36]

The proposed Perris Valley Line extension to the 91 Line will link Riverside and Perris by 2012.[37][38]

A new Metrolink station which in Placentia will serve the 91 Line's north Orange County passengers is currently in its final design phase. Construction on the Placentia station will begin in 2012 or 2013; it will be the only station on the 91 Line not shared by another Metrolink line.[39]

The Redlands Corridor, a 9-mile (14 km) eastward extension from San Bernardino to Redlands and Mentone is planned by the San Bernardino Associated Governments. The association is considering whether to extend commuter rail along the corridor or to install either bus rapid transit or light rail lines.[40]

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority has proposed adding commuter rail service along the Harbor Subdivision corridor offering services to Inglewood, Los Angeles International Airport, the South Bay, the Port of Los Angeles, and/or the Port of Long Beach. A decision whether to employ commuter rail, light rail, or bus rapid transit in this corridor has not yet been reached.[41]

In 2008, lobbyists pushed for a rail line to Temecula in southwestern Riverside County via the 91 Line's La Sierra station.[42] While this proposed line could follow the route of an abandoned freight line, it would require significant money, as freight service ceased almost 30 years ago. Despite this, the Riverside County Transportation Commission's 2008 Commuter Rail Feasibility Study still lists this route as one possibility being considered.[43]

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, but the Union Pacific Railroad opposes further passenger service on its tracks.[44] Nonetheless, as recently as 1999, the Coachella Valley Association of Governments was investigating the possibility 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 a possible stop near Palm Desert),[45] possibly through a partnership with Amtrak. What effect these might have on the 91 Line's Perris Valley extension (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.[44]


The SCRRA is a joint powers authority governed by five county-level agencies: the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Orange County Transportation Authority, the Riverside County Transportation Commission, the San Bernardino Associated Governments, and the Ventura County Transportation Commission.[22] Ex officio members include the Southern California Association of Governments, the San Diego Association of Governments, and the state of California.[1] It is headquartered at the MTA Building at Union Station in Los Angeles where Metro (LACMTA) is headquartered.[46]

The Metrolink system is operated under five year contracts.[citation needed] For 2010 it was allotted an operating budget of $168.1 million.[1]

Maintenance facilities

The upper level of a Metrolink Bombardier bi-level passenger car. The new Rotem passenger cars are slightly different inside.

Central Maintenance Facility

Metrolink's Central Maintenance Facility (CMF) is located on the east bank of the Los Angeles River near the intersection of the 5 and 110 Freeways, just south of the location of the former Southern Pacific Taylor Yard.[47] The facility is operated by Metrolink's equipment maintenance contractor, Bombardier Transportation.[48]

Stuart Mesa Maintenance Facility

Coaster's Stuart Mesa Facility is located between San Clemente Pier and Oceanside at the southwest end of Camp Pendleton. This yard is owned by the North County Transit District and also services Metrolink trains.[48]

Eastern Maintenance Facility

Metrolink's Eastern Maintenance Facility is located in Colton. Metrolink's first crash-resistant cars were displayed at the facility at an event in May 2010.[49]

Rolling stock

Late afternoon train passing through Lake Forest, California

The Metrolink fleet consists of 52 locomotives and 171 Bombardier BiLevel Coaches with 117 Rotem Bi-level cars on order. An additional order of 36 Rotem cars was ordered after Metrolink obtained a loan from the LACMTA, although this still leaves Metrolink about 32 cars short of its goal of completely replacing its Bombardier fleet. With Metrolink continuing to receive its new Rotem cars, the agency has returned all its leased equipment to their owners.

Model Manufactured Road Numbers Number In Fleet Notes
EMD F59PH 1992–1993 851–873 23 [1]
EMD F59PHI 1994 874–881 8
EMD F59PHI 1995 882, 883 2 [2]
EMD F59PHI 2001 884–887 4 [3]
EMD F40PH 1981 800 1 [4][5]
MPI MPXpress MP36PH-3C 2008–2009 888–902 15 [6]
Passenger cars
Bombardier BiLevel Generation 1 1992–1993 101–163 62
Bombardier BiLevel Generation 2 1997 164–182 18 [7]
Bombardier BiLevel Generation 3 2002 183–210 26 [8]
Hyundai Rotem bilevel cars 2010–2011 211-234 23, 60 on order [9]
Cab cars
Bombardier BiLevel Generation 1 1992–1993 601–631 30 [10]
Bombardier BiLevel Generation 2 1997 632–637 6 [11]
Hyundai Rotem bilevel cars 2010–2011 638–665 24, 62 on order [12]


Most Metrolink-owned units are painted in the Metrolink livery, white with blue streaks. The agency is currently in the process of rolling out a new blue and green "ribbons" design. Locomotives are being given the new livery during downtime for maintenance and the new Rotem Bi-level cars are coming from the factory with the updated designed already applied.[33][52]

Major accidents

Placentia, April 2002

Two people died and 22 were seriously injured on April 23, 2002 when 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 Richfield Road. 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.[53]

Glendale, January 2005

Eleven people were killed (including an off-duty sheriff's deputy and a train conductor) and over 100 people were injured, about 40 seriously on January 26, 2005 when a Metrolink passenger train collided with a vehicle parked on the tracks, which then jackknifed and struck a stationary freight locomotive and a Metrolink train moving in the opposite direction. 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.[54][55] On June 26, 2008, Alvarez was convicted on the 11 murder counts and sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.[56]

Chatsworth (Los Angeles), September 2008

26 people were killed and 135 injured when a Metrolink commuter train carrying 222 persons[57] collided head on with a Union Pacific freight train, toppling one of the passenger cars and the locomotive onto its side in the Chatsworth district of Los Angeles.[58] and 135 people were injured, with 81 transported to hospitals in serious or critical condition.[59] The speed of the trains was fast enough that the Metrolink locomotive telescoped into the first passenger car.[59]

See also

Portal icon Greater Los Angeles portal
Portal icon Trains portal


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