A restricted number of Amtrak passenger rail services are now being allowed to resume through a secured Orange County corridor after being halted for over a month. Services were completely discontinued after a major landslide that occurred in January.

According to reports, the Orange County Transportation Authority released an announcement on Tuesday stating that Amtrak Pacific Surfliner trains were being approved to travel through San Clemente. The restoration of services was enacted on Wednesday morning.

On January 24, a hillside in the vicinity of Mariposa Point started to slip and ultimately encroached on the Amtrak’s passageway. Since the incident, the highly active train corridor has been closed to passenger rail service, with only some freight traffic being permitted through overnight hours. During the landslide, a pedestrian bridge owned by the city of San Clemente also suffered significant damage, resulting in debris strewn along the tracks.

The impact of the landslide prompted partner agencies that frequently use the tracks to construct a large wall in an effort to protect the pathway from the unstable grounds above. A total of thirty-three solid steel beams have been put in place to construct the foundation of the wall.

Decisionmakers at Amtrak conducted their own risk analysis and the partner agencies eventually agreed to permit the Pacific Surfliner regulated service to travel from San Diego to San Clemente.

At this time, both northbound and southbound trains are being reinstated during certain morning and evening hours. The morning trains allowed to pass through the corridor will be permitted between the hours of 7:00 and 8:00 p.m. The evening trains permitted to pass through the strip will be allowed between 6:00 and 7:00 p.m.

All services throughout midday will continue to be postponed to allow for construction work to stay on pace.

Officials stated in a news release, “While the resumption of this morning and evening service will reduce the daily work window for construction, the team still anticipates being able to complete the catchment wall later this month.” Officials added, “Once the wall construction is complete, full passenger service is expected to resume.”

Additional reports show that services provided by Metrolink will not resume through the area. Metrolink is actively continuing to operate, however, they are exclusively providing weekday service to run as far South as the Laguna Niguel/Mission Viejo station. Those who rely on Metrolink should note that the weekend Inland-Empire Orange County Line and Orange County Line only runs as far as San Juan Capistrano.

For additional information on the travel restrictions, Amtrak and Metrolink riders are being urged to check each system’s respective websites for the latest updates.

OCTA and Metrolink are leading construction involving the use of heavy machinery to eliminate debris and remove two considerable spans of the pedestrian bridge, which weigh nearly 50,000 pounds combined. Despite rain in the forecast, excavation, drainage work, and the installation of large wooden panels are expected to occur this week.

According to the OCTA, the eroding bluffs, whether located on private property or owned by local municipalities, have caused significant track closures multiple times throughout the last three years. Before that, officials stated that the tracks were essentially undisturbed for at least 125 years.