SBCTA / LA Metro to Study Expanding Rail Frequency from Redlands to LA Union Station

July 10, 2023

At the July 5, 2023 meeting, the SBCTA Board of Directors approved moving forward with a cost-sharing agreement with Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro) to have the Southern California Regional Rail Authority (SCRRA/Metrolink) conduct a study on extending multiple-unit rail vehicle service from the University of Redlands to Union Station in the City of Los Angeles.

In 2018, the Hybrid Rail Study was completed in partnership with SCRRA, LA Metro and SBCTA to analyze the feasibility and operating parameters for supplementing or converting existing Metrolink service on the San Bernardino Line with multiple-unit service. The goal was two-fold: reduce overall operating costs for rail service in the corridor, and provide more frequent service with a focus on a convenient overall schedule for customers.

SCRRA was awarded state grant funding for their Southern California Optimized Rail Expansion (SCORE) Program to make infrastructure improvements in the Metrolink system, with requirements that service frequencies be increased on the San Bernardino Line by 2028 . SBCTA completed the Redlands Passenger Rail Project in 2022 and, in October, Metrolink began revenue service on the line between downtown San Bernardino and the University of Redlands using smaller, cleaner Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) vehicles. Additionally, SBCTA will begin testing their Zero Emission Multiple Unit (ZEMU) vehicles in late 2023, with revenue service scheduled to begin by late 2024 or early 2025.

The joint study, which is expected to be completed by late spring in 2024, will look at how to best implement DMU and ZEMU service to all Metrolink stations on the San Bernardino Line within San Bernardino County, emphasizing timed connections to other Metrolink and passenger rail trains at Los Angeles Union Station. The SBCTA Board approved a Work Order with SCRRA to conduct the study in the amount of $480,000, with a 50/50 cost-sharing agreement between SBCTA and LA Metro.

As transit operators recover from the effects of the COVID pandemic, this study will provide a pathway for more frequent and cost-effective Metrolink service to more commuters in San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties.

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