It takes about two hours for commuters aboard Metrolink trains to travel between the Antelope Valley and downtown's Union Station. Add a service delay -- for whatever reason -- and that easily adds a half hour.
On Weekdays, 24 Metrolink trains and up to five Union Pacific freight trains, which extend over a mile in length, share the mostly single track route that reaches into northern L.A. County. To make trips for passengers as short as possible, Metrolink schedules around the freight trains.
Now, thanks to a $14.65 million project that recently began construction with completion scheduled for late Summer or early Fall 2011, more flexibility and the option to increase service could be on its way.
Once completed, there will be 1.3 miles of passing siding (essentially double tracking) between the historic Lang Station in the Santa Clarita Valley and a station in Acton. "Should express service be considered on this line, this siding would provide a place for other trains to wait so the express train could continue to its destination," explained a Metrolink spokesperson. The siding will also decrease some delays by 15 minutes.
Bart Reed of the Transit Coalition said its good to see the project go through after years of delays. "Every siding the Antelope Valley line gets means there's more ability to handle two way rail traffic," he said, noting that the line is well over 50% single track (for example, there are 14 miles of single track between Palmdale and Lancaster).
Last week the California Transportation Commission funded nearly half of the project, a key element for the project's completion. In that funding package, Metrolink also received $68.75 million for the implementation of Positive Train Control, a collision avoidance technology that enhances safety.
"These funds help us reach our goal of becoming the region's commute of choice by providing a safe, reliable, affordable and flexible transportation option for the region," said CEO John Fenton.
Previously on KCET's SoCal Focus blog: Metrolink Looking to Test Express Service, Could Save Riders 45 Minutes