Metrolink plans system upgrades during service suspension Dec. 26-29

A new Metrolink train at the Vista Canyon Multi-Modal ribbon cutting ceremony at the Vista Canyon station. Katherine Quezada/ The Signal
A new Metrolink train at the Vista Canyon Multi-Modal ribbon cutting ceremony at the Vista Canyon station. Katherine Quezada/ The Signal

News release  

Metrolink will pause service systemwide from Dec. 26-29 to complete infrastructure upgrades, maintenance and repairs. Trains will not run on any of Metrolink’s seven lines, and Arrow service will also be suspended during this time.  

Planned work will help Metrolink provide safer, more efficient service as the Los Angeles mega-region prepares to host high-profile international events, including the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games, in the coming decade, according to a Metrolink news release. 

“Placing our system temporarily out of service was necessary to complete the final phase of a three-year modernization project at LA Union Station, which connects six of our seven lines and serves as the agency’s central hub,” Metrolink’s Chief of Program Delivery Justin Fornelli said in the release. “We’ll be upgrading the signal system where trains enter and exit the station, but we’re not stopping there. This unique break in service will allow us to tackle state-of-good-repair projects across multiple lines, as we work to deliver the safest, most reliable passenger rail experience possible.” 

Modernization work at Union Station will replace 1930s-era signal relay technology with a state-of-the-art, microprocessor-driven signal system, allowing Metrolink to simultaneously run multiple trains on multiple tracks as they enter and depart the facility. The increased capacity will decrease delays, while the updated technology will improve safety through this heavily trafficked corridor. 

Metrolink will perform additional maintenance at Union Station to create a better customer experience. Planned projects include repairing concrete on platforms, freshening paint, cleaning canopies and gutters, adding more lighting tied to emergency power in the tunnel, and servicing high-voltage components to reduce the likelihood of power outages.  

Teams will also leverage the systemwide service suspension to advance priority maintenance and repair projects on multiple lines. Most notably, Metrolink will replace end-of-service-life rail on the curvy and mountainous Antelope Valley Line, reducing the need for slow orders, which can lead to passenger delays, on the newly laid sections of track. On the San Bernardino Line, crews will replace a series of culverts that divert rainwater and storm runoff underneath the tracks to prevent flash flooding.   

To minimize the disruption to customers, the upcoming four-day service outage was strategically scheduled during a period of historically low ridership when schools are not in session and many employers provide time off for the holidays. The agency will not be providing alternative transportation but has created a repository of transit options to help Southern Californians reach their destinations while Metrolink trains are out of service. 

Amtrak Pacific Surfliner will continue to operate between Dec. 26-29 on a modified schedule. Pacific Surfliner trains will bypass Union Station using track not impacted by the Metrolink service suspension. 

Ongoing modernization efforts at Union Station were funded, in part, by Metrolink’s Southern California Optimized Rail Expansion (SCORE) capital improvement program, which launched in 2017 with the goal of providing better, more efficient regional rail service in time for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympic and Paralympic Games and beyond. The project is one of two SCORE projects wrapping up in 2023 with another 11 underway. In November, an upgraded signal system was implemented between Dana Point and San Clemente to improve rail service in Orange County. Work on Metrolink’s Antelope Valley and Ventura County lines at Burbank Junction just north of the Burbank-Downtown Station is also near completion and will allow for greater speed through the area, reducing travel times, when the project concludes in early 2024. SCORE projects continue to be completed on time and within budget. 

SCORE infrastructure projects are critical to delivering greater reliability, convenience and accessibility for riders across Metrolink’s six-county service area. To date, Metrolink has secured $2.4 billion in funding toward the $10 billion needed to realize SCORE’s transformative vision of significantly increasing passenger rail service throughout the Southern California region. 

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