Today Metrolink marks 26 years of serving Southern Californians!
Since we first rolled into service on October 26, 1992, we have made many great advances and been a leader in the industry, expanded and supported regional connectivity and continue to look toward the future.
Let’s look back on our history.
The Beginning: 1988-1992
Public support throughout the five counties that make up Metrolink is what helped create commuter railroad in Southern California. Beginning 1988, Riverside County residents approved Measure A, followed by San Bernardino County residents passing Measure I in 1989, and Los Angeles and Orange County residents passed Proposition C and Measure M respectively in 1990.
Also in 1990, leaders from Los Angeles, Ventura and San Bernardino counties purchased 173 miles of active and abandoned rights-of-way from the Southern Pacific Railroad.
In 1991, the Southern California Regional Rail Authority (SCRRA) was formed as a Joint Powers Authority (JPA) and the name “Metrolink” was chosen as the official name for the upcoming agency.
Metrolink purchased 366 miles of track from the then Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway (now BNSF Railway), and purchased 67 more miles of track from the Southern Pacific Railway.
Metrolink Opening Day: October 26, 1992
Metrolink begins service in Southern California by offering three routes along some of the region’s busiest transit corridors. These routes are the Ventura County Line, the San Bernardino Line, and the Santa Clarita Line, which eventually becomes the Antelope Valley Line. Centered at Los Angeles Union Station, Metrolink offered transportation weekday commuting options to 11 stations, reaching out to the cities of Moorpark, Pomona and Santa Clarita with 10 train sets.
The First 10 Years: 1992 – 2002
Metrolink leaders knew that in order to be successful, the agency would need to grow rapidly to expand service throughout the region. In 1993, only after only seven months in operation, Metrolink expanded by opening the fourth route: the Riverside Line.
In January 1994, a major earthquake in Northridge, impacting multiple areas of Southern California and damaging many major roadways. Federal officials expedited funding and construction, allowing Metrolink to expand the Antelope Valley Line to Lancaster, and the Ventura County Line to Oxnard, while building six new stations in six weeks.
In March 1994, the Orange County Line opens with three weekday round-trips between Los Angeles Union Station and Oceanside, becoming the agency’s fifth and longest route in the system.
Metrolink expanded its service again by providing the nation’s first suburb-to-suburb commuter rail line when it opened the Inland Empire – Orange County Line in October 1995.
In the summer of 1995, Metrolink began to offer its first weekend trains, the San Bernardino Line’s Saturday Explorer. Another special train debuted the next summer with the introduction of the Beach Trains on the Inland Empire – Orange County Line, taking riders from Riverside to San Clemente, and in 1997 Saturday service expands to the Antelope Valley Line.
Looking again to increase connectivity in the region, Metrolink opened the seventh route in 2002: the 91 Line (now known as the 91/Perris Valley Line) which linked Downtown Riverside, Fullerton and Downtown Los Angeles.
Metrolink Innovates Industry: 2003 – 2017
Metrolink’s second decade of service reinforced safety as a priority in all operations. After tragedies in Glendale in 2005, Chatsworth in 2008 and Oxnard in 2015, Metrolink implemented a sweeping set of safety measures to transform itself into the nation’s safest commuter rail system.
In 2005, Metrolink worked with legislators, regulators and federal lawmakers to gain support for a comprehensive strategy of safer crossings, less accessible right-of-ways and the development of Crash Energy Management (CEM) rail cars. In 2006, orders 117 safety-enhanced rail cars using the CEM technology, which were designed to absorb impact and reduce injuries in the event of a collision. In addition, that same year, Metrolink initiated the Sealed Corridor Program, which reduced the potential for accidents at 57 different at-grade crossings, by separating trains from vehicles, motorists and pedestrians. These first sealed corridors became a reality in 2007.
In 2008, in response to the Chatsworth incident, Metrolink expanded its commitment to safety by strongly supporting the Rail Safety and Improvement Act of 2008, which required the implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC). Metrolink becomes the first passenger rail in the nation to operate PTC technology across its entire network in 2015.
In 2009, Metrolink was the only railroad agency in the nation to install inward-facing cameras in the operator’s cab on trains, which further reduced risk of accidents and provided additional safety for passengers and crews.
That same year, Metrolink broke ground on the Orange County Rail-Highway Grade Crossing Safety Enhancement Program – the largest grade crossing safety enhancement program in the United States. The program redesigned 52 grade crossings in eight cities. When completed in 2012, Metrolink establishes Quiet Zones along the Orange County line, spanning 34 crossings in six cities.
The delivery of the safety-enhanced Hyundai Rotem rail cars using CEM technology, first ordered in 2006, began in 2010, which made Metrolink the first U.S. commuter rail carrier the first to have this new technology in service. Metrolink expands the ordcer from 117 to 137. As a result of the Oxnard incident in 2015, these cars were redesigned to improve safety and prevent derailments.
To update Metrolink’s locomotives, in 2012 the Board of Directors authorized the agency to secure the new Tier 4 Locomotives. These locomotives are the cleanest in the nation and will help reduce emissions by up to 85 percent and use less fuel, while increasing reliability. Metrolink received funding for the Tier 4’s in 2014, and receives its first cars in 2016.
In June 2016, Metrolink opened its first major expansion since 1994 with the 24-mile extension of the 91 Line to Perris Valley. The new 91/Perris Valley Line now connects Perris to Downtown Los Angeles with four new stations.
In 2018, Metrolink opened the new Burbank Airport – North Station on the Antelope Valley Line to create more train-to-plane connections in the region.
Metrolink Looks To The Future
As Metrolink looks forward to the future of the agency, looking back at its history helps shape direction and provide a clearer view on where to go.
Regular passenger service of the Tier 4 Locomotives has begun, the continued work on safety improvements at grade crossings like Rail-Highway Grade Crossing Safety Enhancement Programs, Quiet Zones or double tracking projects and technological advances including Real-Time Train Information and the mobile app to help make the customer experience easier, there has never been a better or safer time to take Metrolink.
Metrolink will continue to work with leaders in the region to make improvements to connectivity in the region by expanding service to connect to other communities and building more stations. Metrolink will always continue to focus on safety and being a leader in the industry. Metrolink will continue to be environmentally conscious and work to maintain positive relationships with its communities by meeting with residents and leaders on a regular basis. Metrolink strives to become the commuter railroad that every other agency in the United States measures itself against.
We thank you for your continued ridership and looks forward to many more years in the future.
Fun Facts About Metrolink:
- Metrolink is the nation’s 3rd largest commuter rail system with 409 unduplicated route miles. See our station map »
- 2.8 million train miles per year and 400 million passenger miles per year.
- 39,838 average weekday boardings, according to the latest estimates.
- Metrolink has a very low tax subsidy of $0.35 per passenger mile.
- 60% of Metrolink riders travel across county lines.
- 81% of weekday trips are work-related.
- 82% of Metrolink riders own an automotive but choose Metrolink.
- Metrolink’s service:
- Reduces 8.7 million car trips annually.
- Reduces 110,338 metric tons of greenhouse gasses (GHG) emission.
- Reduces traffic volume by 30% on parallel freeways.
- The average construction cost per mile of Metrolink track is $8 million compared to $30 million per mile for freeway lanes.