Storms Sever California Rail Line—Again

The coast-hugging rail corridor linking Los Angeles and San Diego faces an uncertain future as mudslides once again force part of the line to close.

1 minute read

February 6, 2024, 10:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Silver and blue train passing by on track at the edge of Pacific Ocean in San Clemente, California.

Train tracks in San Clemente, California. | Karl Le / Adobe Stock

The Los Angeles-to-San Diego rail corridor was once again severed by storms that brought on mudslides, putting the coastal rail line in jeopardy.

As Dan Zukowski explains in Smart Cities Dive, this is the fifth time in three years that Southern California rail service was interrupted by damage from coastal erosion. Some beaches in San Clemente have shrunk by as much as five feet per year since 2001. “In late 2022, workers had to repair tracks that had slipped more than 2 feet toward the ocean due to erosion.”

The repeated closures have led to a precipitous drop in ridership. “[L]ast May, during one of the previous closures, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that ridership had dropped to between 40% and 50% of pre-pandemic levels after recovering to about 75% of earlier ridership.”Local agencies are planning mitigation measures, but sea level rise likely means the rail line will require relocation.

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