Metrolink logo as of 2017
A Metrolink train near San Clemente Pier station
|Transit type||Commuter rail|
|Number of lines||7|
|Number of stations||62|
|Daily ridership||40,000 (avg. Q4 2015-16)|
|Chief executive||Stephanie Wiggins|
|Headquarters||Wilshire Grand Center, Los Angeles|
|Began operation||October 26, 1992|
|Operator(s)||Amtrak (under contract to the SCRRA)|
|Character||At-grade and above ground|
|Number of vehicles||52 locomotives, 260 rail cars|
|System length||534 mi (859 km)|
|Top speed||90 mph (140 km/h)|
The system operates in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Ventura counties, as well as to Oceanside in San Diego County. It connects with the Los Angeles County Metro Rail and Metro Busway system, the San Diego Coaster commuter rail and Sprinter light rail services, and with Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner, Coast Starlight, Southwest Chief, Sunset Limited, and Texas Eagle intercity rail services. Metrolink owns several hundred miles of rail; however, it also shares some track with freight trains.
The system, founded in 1991 as the Southern California Regional Rail Authority (SCRRA) and adopting "Metrolink" as its moniker, started operation in 1992. Average weekday ridership was 42,928 as of 2017.
In addition to suburban communities and cities, Metrolink also serves several points of interest such as Downtown Los Angeles, Burbank, Hollywood Burbank Airport, California State University, Los Angeles, Angel Stadium of Anaheim, and the San Clemente Pier. Special service has also been extended to the Pomona Fairplex, the Ventura County Fairgrounds, and the Auto Club Speedway for certain events.
|San Bernardino||300||Los Angeles
|Daily||West from downtown San Bernardino, San Bernardino Transit Center, between Interstate 10 and State Route 210. Runs in the Interstate 10 median starting near El Monte.|
|Weekdays||Northwest from downtown Riverside, eventually paralleling State Route 60 along the south Inland Empire.|
|91/Perris Valley||700||Los Angeles
||Daily||Southeast from Union Station along Interstate 5, east along the Riverside Freeway (State Route 91) to Riverside, and then south along Interstate 215.|
|Daily||Southwest from downtown San Bernardino to follow the Riverside Freeway (Interstate 215 south and State Route 91) west. Turns south to parallel Interstate 5.|
|Orange County||600||Los Angeles
|Daily||Northwest from Oceanside along Interstate 5. Deviates slightly from the interstate in north Orange and southeast Los Angeles counties.|
|Antelope Valley||200||Los Angeles
|Daily||Northwest from Union Station, roughly following Interstate 5. Turns east, then north, to parallel State Route 14.|
|Weekdays||East from Ventura, roughly following State Route 118. Turns south at Hollywood Burbank Airport towards Union Station. Trains with 900-series numbers run between Union Station and Hollywood Burbank Airport.|
Metrolink's fare structure is based on a flat fee for boarding the train and an additional cost for distance with fares being calculated in 25-cent increments between stations.
Fare increases normally occur annually in July, to coincide with increased fuel and labor expenses, and have generally averaged between 3.5% and 5% per year (although restructuring caused a larger jump in rates). The oil price increases since 2003 are partly to blame for consistently increasing fares, as Metrolink trains are powered by diesel fuel.
In late 2018, Metrolink announced that San Bernardino line ticket prices would be reduced by 25% at least through 2019 in an attempt to increase ridership. Similar discounts have been introduced to other lines since 2016.
The member agencies of the SCRRA purchased 175 miles (282 km) of track, maintenance yards, and stations and other property from Southern Pacific for $450 million in 1990 ($881 million adjusted for inflation). The rights to use Los Angeles Union Station were purchased from Union Pacific, the station's owner at the time, for $17 million in the same year ($33.3 million adjusted for inflation) (Union Station has since been purchased by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority). The Authority was formally founded in 1991.Amtrak began operation of the Ventura, Santa Clarita (later renamed Antelope Valley), and San Bernardino lines on October 26, 1992 under contract to the SCRRA.
In 1993, service was expanded to include the Riverside and Orange County Lines. The Inland Empire-Orange County Line opened in 1995. In 1995, more trains on the Orange County service were funded. The 91 Line opened in 2002.
From July 2004, Metrolink fares were changed from zone based to one based on distance. In 2005, a five-year operational contract was awarded to Connex Railroad/Veolia Transport. That same year, the Orange County Transportation Authority approved a plan to increase frequencies to 76 trains daily on the Orange County and Inland Empire-Orange County Lines by 2009, and funding for increased Metrolink service was included in the renewal of the Measure M sales tax for transportation approved by voters in November 2006. A proposed station in Yorba Linda was canceled in 2005 due to local opposition.
In July 2008, it was announced that ridership had risen 16% over the previous year. Following the 2008 Chatsworth train collision in which 25 people died and 135 were injured a number of safety measures were taken; in the fall of 2009, inward-facing video cameras were installed in locomotives in order to ensure that staff were complying with regulations, in particular a ban on use of mobile phones. In 2010, the first of 117 energy absorbing passenger carriages (which lessen the toll on passengers in the case of an accident) were received by the operator. Amtrak regained the contract to operate Metrolink beginning in July 2010. Average weekday ridership for the fourth quarter of 2009 was 38,400.
In 2010, to save money in the face of funding cuts, the Metrolink board voted to reduce mid-day service on the Inland Empire-Orange County Line, as well as weekend service on both the Orange County and Inland Empire-Orange County lines.
Average weekday ridership was 41,000 during May 2011. A survey found that 90% of users during a typical weekday in 2009 would have previously driven alone or carpooled and that the system replaced an estimated 25,000 vehicle trips. During a weekend closure of Interstate 405 in July 2011, the system recorded its highest-ever weekend ridership of 20,000 boardings which was 50% higher than the same weekend in 2010 and 10% higher than the previous weekend ridership record which occurred during U2 360° Tour in June 2011. Ridership continued to rise in 2012 (up 2%), when average weekday ridership reached 42,265. Although 2013 annual boardings were almost 12.07 million, ridership dropped to 11.74 million by fall 2014 which was contrary to projections. Blaming the decrease on the worst recession since World War II, Metrolink said it found itself caught between cutting service and boosting fares, both of which would likely further decrease ridership.
The Riverside County Transportation Commission (RCTC) extended the 91 Line southeast 24 miles (39 km) to Perris, using the existing San Jacinto Branch Line, which it purchased in 1993. Initial plans were for construction/renovation of the line to begin in 2012, but these were delayed by a lawsuit filed by homeowners in the affected area, who challenged the RCTC's environmental report. The lawsuit was settled in late July 2013. Construction on the $248.3 million extension began in October 2013; service was originally planned to begin in December 2015, and then in February 2016. In mid-February 2016, the extension's opening was planned in March of that year. The extension officially opened in June 2016.
Two people died and 22 were seriously injured on April 23, 2002, when a BNSF freight train collided head-on with a Metrolink train in Placentia, near the Atwood Junction, at the intersection of Orangethorpe Avenue and Richfield Road. Both trains were on the same east-west track moving toward one another. The Metrolink had the right-of-way; it was supposed to switch to a southbound track. The BNSF train was supposed to slow and stop just before the switch while the Metrolink passed, but the crew missed a signal one and a half miles back warning them to slow down. By the time the crew saw the red "stop" signal at the switch and the Metrolink train, they were going too fast to avoid a collision. Although there was speculation that the signals alerting the BNSF to slow and stop had malfunctioned, an investigation later concluded that it was human error by the crew that caused the accident.
Eleven people were killed (including an off-duty sheriff's deputy and a train conductor) and over 100 people were injured, about 40 seriously on January 26, 2005, when a Metrolink passenger train collided with a vehicle parked on the tracks, which then jackknifed and struck a stationary freight locomotive and a Metrolink train moving in the opposite direction. The man who parked the vehicle on the tracks, Juan Manuel Alvarez, was apprehended and charged with 11 counts of first-degree murder with special circumstances, including murder by train wrecking. On June 26, 2008, Alvarez was convicted on the 11 murder counts and sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
Twenty-six people were killed and 135 injured when a Metrolink commuter train carrying 222 persons collided head on with a Union Pacific freight train, toppling one of the passenger cars and the locomotive onto its side in the Chatsworth district of Los Angeles. Along with the 135 people who were injured, 81 were transported to local hospitals in serious or critical condition. The velocity of the trains caused the Metrolink locomotive to telescope into the first passenger car. Some 218 people have been killed by Metrolink train accidents from 1993 to 2008, a figure which includes pedestrians.
Thirty people were injured when southbound Metrolink Ventura County Line train 102 (East Ventura to LA Union Station) crashed into a truck that was stopped on the tracks at the Rice Avenue crossing near Oxnard at about 5:40 am on February 24, 2015. One person, the train's engineer, later died of his injuries. The driver, who had left the truck before the crash, was located by the police and taken into custody. The train consisted of a Hyundai-Rotem "guardian fleet" cab car in the lead, a Bombardier Bi-level "bike car" coach, two Hyundai-Rotem "guardian fleet" coach cars and an EMD F59PH locomotive. After this accident, Metrolink leased 40 diesel freight locomotives from BNSF, to be placed into service as temporary cab cars while they investigated problems with their Hyundai-Rotem cars. On July 8, 2016, the Metrolink board approved a $1.5 million plan to repair the plows on the Hyundai Rotem cab cars. Once the repairs were completed, the cars returned to service and the leased BNSF locomotives were returned.
Metrolink has grown in popularity, and there are a number of planned extensions of the system and new stations. Station parking capacity has also been strained.
A new Metrolink station in Placentia, which will serve the 91/Perris Valley Line's north Orange County passengers, has completed its final design phase, save for issues related to the parking needed to accompany the station. Construction on the $24 million Placentia station began in 2018, and it is scheduled to open in 2021.
The Arrow commuter rail, formerly known as the Redlands Passenger Rail Project is a 9-mile (14 km) eastward rail extension from San Bernardino to Redlands and Mentone being planned by the San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG). The association was considering whether to extend commuter rail along the corridor or to install either bus rapid transit or light rail lines, but in December 2015, SANBAG officials said they planned to extend Metrolink service only to the San Bernardino Transit Center and use diesel multiple units operated by Omnitrans in lieu of Metrolink locomotive-hauled coaches on the rest of the route. Groundbreaking for construction on the line took place on July 19, 2019. Service is scheduled to launch in early 2022. In 2019 Omnitrans was dismissed as operator due to restructuring of the organization, with Metrolink chosen to follow out construction and eventual operation.
The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) has proposed adding commuter rail service along the Harbor Subdivision corridor offering services to Inglewood, Los Angeles International Airport, the South Bay, the Port of Los Angeles, and/or the Port of Long Beach. A decision whether to employ commuter rail, light rail, or bus rapid transit in this corridor has not yet been reached by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
In 2008, lobbyists pushed for a rail line to Temecula in southwestern Riverside County via the 91 Line's La Sierra station. While this proposed line could follow the route of an abandoned freight line, it would require significant money, as freight service ceased almost 30 years ago. Despite this, the Riverside County Transportation Commission's 2008 Commuter Rail Feasibility Study still lists this route as one possibility being considered. Expansion to Hemet has also been discussed, with two stations planned.
The cities of the Coachella Valley (Palm Springs, Cathedral City, Palm Desert, Indio, and Coachella) have requested commuter rail service from Los Angeles and Orange County, but the Union Pacific Railroad opposes further passenger service on its tracks. Nonetheless, in 1999, the Coachella Valley Association of Governments was investigating the possibility of two daily round trips via the 91 Line from Los Angeles's Union Station through Fullerton and Riverside to stations in Palm Springs and Indio (with a possible stop near Palm Desert), possibly through a partnership with Amtrak. This extension would likewise require significant money for infrastructure improvements: at least $500 million, according to the California State Rail Plan of 2005. Nonetheless, in 2013 Caltrans conducted a feasibility study of a Coachella Valley service and RCTC has resolved to pursue establishing one.
During the initial years of operation of the California High-Speed Rail between Merced and Burbank, projected to commence in 2022 (but since repeatedly delayed to 2033), passengers would use Metrolink for travel between Burbank and downtown Los Angeles. An alternative plan would have track-sharing to Union Station but this would require electrification for that portion of the line. This alternate plan would provide a "one-seat ride" at the start of service between the Central Valley and downtown, or even Orange County.
The SCRRA is a joint powers authority governed by five county-level agencies: the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Orange County Transportation Authority, the Riverside County Transportation Commission, the San Bernardino Associated Governments, and the Ventura County Transportation Commission.Ex officio members include the Southern California Association of Governments, the San Diego Association of Governments, and the state of California.
Metrolink's headquarters at one time were in the MCI Center. By 2000, Metrolink had expanded its lease in the MCI Center by 6,700 square feet (620 m2), giving the agency a total of around 40,000 square feet (3,700 m2) of space. In June 2011, Metrolink moved its headquarters to the MTA Building, where the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA) is also headquartered. Metrolink then moved to the Wilshire Grand Center in 2018 along with the Southern California Association of Governments. The move was precipitated by LACMTA requiring more space in the MTA Building.
In 2014, an internal report suggested changes in the railroad's governing structure as the conflicting demands of the various agencies are difficult to meet. The report proposed turning the operation over to a local transit agency.
Metrolink operates several maintenance facilities across its service area. Its Keller Yard Central Maintenance Facility (CMF) is located on the east bank of the Los Angeles River near the intersection of the 5 and 110 Freeways, just south of the location of the former Southern Pacific Taylor Yard. The facility is operated by Metrolink's equipment maintenance contractor: Bombardier Transportation. The Eastern Maintenance Facility is located in San Bernardino. Metrolink trains are also serviced at Coaster's Stuart Mesa Facility, which is located between San Clemente Pier and Oceanside at the southwest end of Camp Pendleton. This yard is owned by the North County Transit District.
Most Metrolink-owned units are painted in a white livery with blue stripes that was introduced in the late 1990s as a replacement for a similar scheme that had been in use since the agency's launch. The agency is currently in the process of switching to a new blue and green "ribbons" design since the proposed change in 2007. Locomotives are being given the updated design during routine maintenance, and the Guardian Fleet and EMD F125 locomotives arrive from the factory in the new colors.