December 30th 2022: The Orange County Transit Authority has announced that rail service could return to South Orange County through San Clemente by February. The announcement by OCTA was to the Coastal Commission which should be good news for commuters and others who have been impacted by the closure.
This is the second time in about a year that this section of rail track had to be closed because of either a landslide or land movement. After the first landslide in September 2021 sensors were added to check for movement in the land which occurred that’s why the train tracks were shut down again.
Train riders along this section of track love the fact the train tracks run right along the ocean giving great views but with that comes with the threat of erosion affecting the train tracks. All Orange County beaches are facing the threat of climate change and increased beach erosion.
In the past huge boulders called rip rap were placed to protect the train tracks and, more have been added recently. The long-time decision will be what to do about the vulnerable 7 mile stretch of train track from San Clemente to Dana Point. Moving the track inland would be hugely expensive but what will be the cost of protecting the current route near the beach.
Freight trains still run through the area but since November passenger service runs south to the San Clemente Pier and northbound passenger train traffic stops at Oceanside.