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San Clemente Rail Closure Update: Thursday, Feb. 22

OCTA/Metrolink team begins to mobilize for construction of a catchment wall with drilling expected to begin as early as Tuesday, Feb. 27; freight trains remain halted through the area

ORANGE – The OCTA and Metrolink project team has started staging equipment to begin construction – weather permitting – on a catchment wall next week to protect the rail line in San Clemente at Mariposa Point, a critical link in Southern California’s rail network.

While the final design of the catchment wall and the timetable for building it are still being determined, the initial design calls for the wall to be approximately 10 to 15 feet tall and 160 feet long, supported by steel beams, each about 30 feet deep. Drilling for the beams that will support the catchment wall structure could begin as early as Tuesday, Feb. 27.

The schedule, dependent on weather and securing all the necessary materials, calls for the catchment wall to be tentatively completed by late March. It’s important to note this schedule is subject to change.

Discussions are ongoing about if and when limited passenger service may resume.

BNSF freight traffic remains halted through the area because of significant additional movement at the bottom of the slope that caused soil and debris to inch close to the track following recent heavy rain.

The track remains stable, however, the amount of soil near the track hasn’t allowed for sufficient clearance for trains to safely pass. Discussions about when freight trains can resume continue but no timeline has been set.

While the rain has cleared for now and the site is drying out, the slope remains heavily saturated. The team continues to take measurements and monitor the slope but no additional soil has been removed because geologists have warned that removing large amounts of soil could cause additional instability of the privately owned hillside above.

Monitoring and preparations for the next rainstorm, expected Monday, are ongoing. Crews expect to continue working in the rain, but it could delay the construction schedule depending upon the amount of rain and the condition of the slope.

For the latest updates and background, visit

For Updates on Rail Service: Passengers are asked to check and for real-time updates.

Background: The rail line was closed through San Clemente the evening of Wednesday, Jan. 24, when a landslide on private property above the city-owned Mariposa Trail Pedestrian Bridge caused major damage to the bridge and scattered debris onto the track.

OCTA, which owns the track, worked with partners at Metrolink and contractors to quickly mobilize emergency crews, who used heavy machinery on the rails to remove debris and haul away two large spans of the bridge, each weighing 24,000 pounds. The OCTA and Metrolink team continues to work to resume safe passenger rail service as soon as possible.

Over the past three years, San Clemente’s eroding bluffs – on both city and private property – have repeatedly forced the closure of the rail line which has operated largely uninterrupted for more than 125 years.

Unfortunately, it is becoming increasingly common for California’s transportation infrastructure to suffer storm-related damage, forcing closures and evacuations. Most recently, indefinite nightly closures were announced for a 6-mile stretch of Pacific Coast Highway north of Malibu, where storm damage sheared off stretches of the roadway. Additionally, roads and buildings in the City of Rancho Palos Verdes have suffered significant damage after record-setting rains have saturated the ground and accelerated a landslide.

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