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San Clemente landslide causes suspension of rail service

A landslide in San Clemente that has resulted in the suspension or rail service between Oceanside and Orange County, Jan. 25, 2023.
Alexander Nguyen
A landslide in San Clemente that has resulted in the suspension or rail service between Oceanside and Orange County, Jan. 25, 2023.

Passenger rail service between the Laguna Niguel/Mission Viejo and Oceanside stations remained suspended today due to a landslide that again sent boulders and debris onto the tracks and damaged the Mariposa Trail Bridge in San Clemente.

It was uncertain today when service would resume.

Orange County and Inland Empire-Orange County Metrolink line trains were only operating as far south as the Laguna Niguel/Mission Viejo Station. There will be no alternate transportation to or from either San Clemente or Oceanside.


Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner service between Los Angeles and San Diego was also disrupted, with some trains canceled and others using bus bridges around the landslide area to carry passengers.

Metrolink officials said Wednesday night that track and engineering teams were working collaboratively with the Orange County Transportation Authority and San Clemente officials to ensure the right of way is safe, Metrolink announced.

The damage caused by the landslide was reported at 4:26 p.m. Wednesday. The affected area is located approximately one-half mile north of Metrolink's San Clemente Pier Station, according to Metrolink. It was unclear exactly when the slide occurred. Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley indicated the original landslide may have occurred roughly two weeks ago, forcing the closure of the Mariposa bridge just north of the pier.

"With less than one month into the new year, the railroad tracks in South County are already closed due to a landslide in San Clemente," Foley said in a statement. "Decades of climate change denial leaves Orange County behind in a race between us and Mother Earth. To protect our local economy and way of life, we cannot afford for these disruptive service suspensions to continue on a yearly basis. I remain committed to working with our partners to clean up and monitor this situation, but more importantly, find solutions for rail stability."

The much-used tracks in San Clemente endured a pair of extended closures last year due to mudslides and debris. The first occurred in April near the Casa Romantica Culture Center and Gardens, blocking the tracks for a month while repairs were completed. Another mudslide occurred in the same general area on June 5, prompting another rail closure that lasted for nearly six weeks.


Repair crews at that time installed a temporary barrier in hopes of preventing debris from future erosion.

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