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Metrolink Service Is Running Again in West Ventura County

Storm damage is forcing the trains to slow down, and Amtrak is still awaiting track repairs.

January 26, 2005|Gregory W. Griggs | Times Staff Writer

Metrolink resumed passenger service this week in western Ventura County, which was disrupted by devastating storms earlier this month, while Amtrak is waiting to restore its popular Pacific Surfliner service north of Los Angeles.

Orders to reduce speeds because of ongoing repairs meant commuters using one of three Metrolink trains headed to Los Angeles on Tuesday morning from stations in Montalvo, Oxnard and Camarillo had to arrive 10 minutes earlier than usual as operators tried to compensate for speeds as low as 10 mph in some places.

With repairs and freight traffic, "we had 20- to 30-minute delays this morning," said Metrolink spokeswoman Denise Tyrrell, who expects earlier departure times for about a week. Passenger service began Monday afternoon on the line, which normally carries an average of 1,490 people daily within the county.

Storms did not affect service from Moorpark and Simi Valley.

Railroad officials said Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner service may be extended between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara as early as Feb. 8, but that its daily Coast Starlight, which runs from Los Angeles to Seattle, is not likely to return to full service before Feb. 28.

"The tracks are owned by Union Pacific, so as soon as they give us the go-ahead, we'll be able to resume service," said Amtrak spokeswoman Sarah Swain.

Pacific Surfliner normally operates between San Diego and San Luis Obispo and carries a daily average of 5,000 passengers on up to a dozen round trips, but has been limited to the section south of Union Station in downtown Los Angeles since Jan. 15.

Meanwhile, passengers who travel from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties are able to take buses the railroad is providing for customers on its San Joaquin service that travels from Bakersfield to Oakland and Sacramento.

For the latest information on schedules, Swain said riders can call (800) 872-6245 or check the website at www.amtrak.com.

John Bromley, spokesman for Omaha-based Union Pacific, said repairs continue to be made on portions of its 130 miles of track between Somis in Ventura County and Guadalupe, 22 miles south of San Luis Obispo.

Mudslides that covered tracks and erosion of land beneath or near tracks made much of the route impassable for nearly two weeks.

"We need to get more mud out of the tracks and replace the ties before we can run the passenger trains on their normal schedules," Bromley said.

The railroad restored service Jan. 21 for a limited number of nightly freight trains between Oakland and Los Angeles, he said.

Storm damage forced Union Pacific to shut five of its six rail lines leaving the Los Angeles Basin. Bromley estimated the company will lose $200 million.

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