Only track crews could get anywhere by rail

Amtrak's Surfliner at the Encinitas station/Amtrak

Coaster and Amtrak riders this weekend found they could ride all they wanted, but it best had been by plane or automobile, not train. That is, if they wanted to get there.

Rail service along the 351-mile Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo, or LOSSAN, rail corridor, was suspended in both directions on Saturday through 5 a.m. Monday from Oceanside to San Diego for track and signal improvements, according to the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG). The rail line passes through six counties, servicing more than 7 million passengers and many freight trains.

The scheduled rail work in Encinitas, Carlsbad and San Diego affected weekend rail service for the four railroads that use the corridor — the North County Transit District, Metrolink, Amtrak and freight line BNSF. Rail service resumed Monday for morning commute hours with some delays expected to last 15 minutes.

And hold on to your train passes. Similar weekend closures are also planned for March 11-12, March 25-26, April 29- 30 and possibly May 20-21.

Track crews in Encinitas “grinded” existing rails, a procedure designed to prolong track life, adjusted the track’s ballast and replaced rail ties. Improvements were part of the $76.8 million San Elijo Lagoon double-tracking project to add a second rail track between Cardiff-by-the-Sea and San Elijo Lagoon. SANDAG expected the project to be completed this spring.

Crews in Carlsbad resurfaced and realigned existing railway in preparation of the rail line’s new western alignment. The $33.7 million Poinsettia Station Improvements Project “will lengthen and elevate passenger platforms, install a fence between the tracks within the station, relocate a section of the existing tracks, and replace the existing at-grade rail crossings with an undercrossing featuring stairways and ADA compliance ramps on both sides of the tracks,” according to SANDAG. The agency expects the project to be completed in 2020.

At San Diego

Rail crews worked on rail infrastructure along Morena Boulevard and Santa Fe Street. The work was part of the Elvira to Morena Double Track Project, which was expected to be completed later this year. According to SANDAG, the project is being completed concurrent with the Mid-Coast Trolley extension, which will extend Metropolitan Transit System service 11 miles from Santa Fe Depot in downtown San Diego to University City.

San Diego work crews also continued bridge construction work near Friars Road at the site of the San Diego River Bridge Double Track Project, which will add nearly a mile of doubled railroad track across the river.

All four weekend rail work projects were part of SANDAG’s Build NCC (North Coast Corridor) program, a 40-year, $700 million effort to repair and expand vehicle and rail transportation infrastructure throughout the county.

Once completed, county officials anticipate adding a total of 13 miles of new carpool and high-occupancy vehicle freeway lanes, 1 1/2 miles of doubled railroad track, seven miles of bike and pedestrian paths and more than 1,200 acres of restored and preserved coastal habitat land.


Published on Nov 30, 2018

The Coast Express Rail, commonly known as the Coaster, has been San Diego’s Commuter Railroad since early 1995. From the start, the Morrison Knudsen F40PH-2C has been powering trains, 5 of them to be exact. In the early 2000’s, 2 EMD F59PHI locomotives were also brought, bringing the engine total to 7 for the Coaster.

Age and deferred maintenance has taken a toll on these locomotives, and breakdowns are now more common than ever. Instead of properly taking care of their equipment, NCTD has been recently running “doubleheaders” to minimize the impact to the busy Surfline rail corridor.

The F59 locomotives have been the major culprits lately, along with F40’s 2102 and 2104. 6 car sets have been used in the Summer due to high rider capacity, but this was quickly cut back recently, with 4 car sets becoming the norm since the locomotives can’t pull 5+ cars without dying it seems.

Even the doubleheader set broke down, as witnessed passing CP Shell, crippling along to the Stuart Mesa Yard! NCTD has also been having an extra “emergency rescue” set on standby, consisting of 1 Cabcar and 1 Locomotive. This set rescues broken down trains, and can run at normal track speeds due to the cabcar on the South end. Also threw in a few bonus clips of various Coaster trains, especially cab cars 2301 and 2309, with their “decent” sounding horns.

Sadly, that’s the best you’re gonna get with Coaster now a days, how the mighty has fallen! I do hope that NCTD and Bombardier get their act together, these breakdowns and lack of maintenance is a complete joke and truly unacceptable and pathetic. With the Charger locomotives for Coaster still 3 years away, I will be shocked if the fleet lasts that long! All locations listed in video.

— Video and Content © 2018 MichaelLovesTrains

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