Orange County Coastal Rail Resiliency Study

Written by Orange County Transportation Authority, Corporate Communications
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ORANGE COUNTY, Calif. –– The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) and the LOSSAN Rail Corridor (Los Angeles – San Diego – San Luis Obispo) are working together on an Orange County Coastal Rail Resiliency Study. The study began in November 2023 and completion is expected in Fall 2025. OCTA is studying rail challenges in south Orange County to assess existing and future environmental risks and issues with operations and maintenance along the LOSSAN Rail Corridor. The study will evaluate strategies to address these challenges.

Study Overview

OCTA owns 40+ miles of rail between the cities of San Clemente and Fullerton. This vital link in the 351-mile LOSSAN Rail Corridor is the second busiest passenger rail corridor in the nation and annually carries more than $1 billion in freight throughout Southern California. Between Los Angeles and San Diego, the line is designated as a Strategic Rail Corridor Network by the Department of Defense due to its connectivity with military bases and major ports.

Near heavily populated and built-out residential and commercial areas, this rail line is vulnerable to catastrophic failure due to changing environmental conditions and coastal erosion, rendering passenger rail service inoperable for extended periods. Service suspension has occurred multiple times over the last several years, underscoring the importance of addressing the vulnerability of the railroad.

Study Objectives

The Coastal Rail Resiliency Study (CRRS) will evaluate strategies to protect the railroad in place for up to 30 years and ensure uninterrupted rail operations while minimizing passenger and freight service disruptions. It will include a detailed analysis of seven miles of critical coastal track between Dana Point and San Clemente at the San Diego County line.

Key milestones include conducting an initial assessment to identify and evaluate locations at immediate risk; establishing evaluation criteria to consider potential alternative concepts; developing these concepts, and ultimately presenting draft and final feasibility study reports.

A separate long-term study will look at potential rail line relocation to an inland alignment between San Juan Capistrano and San Onofre State Beach. Given the potential magnitude of this effort, it will require involvement of state and federal agencies. Discussions are underway to determine which agency is best positioned to lead that effort.

Public Involvement

Public involvement is a critical study component and fundamental to shaping its outcome. Listening sessions with stakeholders will take place early on and engagement will occur regularly throughout this 24-month study.

RT&S will report on results of the study as they are available.

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