Metro Board approves contract for Union Station regional rail improvements

The project will extend tracks south from Union Station. Under the current setup, all trains must enter and exit the station from the north. Photo: Google Maps.

The project will extend tracks south from Union Station. Under the current setup, all trains must enter and exit the station from the north. Photo: Google Maps.

As part of the consent calendar, the Metro Board of Directors unanimously approved Item 21, a $31-million contract for engineering work to extend regional rail tracks south from Union Station — so that trains don’t all have to enter and exit the station from the north.

Here’s the news release from Metro:

To prepare Los Angeles Union Station for expected growth in Amtrak and Metrolink passenger rail service, and to accommodate the future California High-Speed Rail system, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) Board of Directors awarded a contract today to HDR Engineering, Inc. for environmental work and engineering of the Southern California Regional Interconnector Project (SCRIP).

SCRIP will change the configuration of some of Union Station’s “stub end” tracks to “run through” the station, allowing operational flexibility.  Currently, all commuter and intercity regional rail trains enter and exit through the five track throat at the north end of Union Station. SCRIP will extend several of the tracks to exit the south end of the station, cross over the 101 freeway and join the railroad right-of-way along the west bank of the Los Angeles River. The preliminary cost estimate for the project is $350 million.

“SCRIP will allow Union Station to increase track capacity 40 to 50 percent and provide greater flexibility in scheduling as well as an increase in passenger loading with longer trains,” said Metro Board Chair Diane DuBois. “The “run through” tracks will allow one-seat rides between the various destinations in the Metrolink service area and greatly improve operations.”

The current “stub end” configuration requires an average turn-around time of 15 minutes per train, resulting in more than 40 cumulative hours of train idling at Union Station each day. SCRIP can potentially shorten dwell time for more than 50 percent of the passenger trains using the station to 2 minutes for passenger loading and unloading, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions of idling locomotives by an estimated 44 percent. 

“This project is needed for the longer term rail needs of our region,” said Metro CEO Art Leahy. “Metrolink and Amtrak operations will be growing in the coming years and SCRIP is part of a statewide integrated passenger rail system designed to meet that growth,” Leahy said. 

The California High Speed Rail Authority, which is a partner with Metro on the project, plans to connect high-speed train service directly to Union Station, thereby providing additional ridership for other rail providers and increasing the need for additional capacity.

The preliminary schedule calls for the completion of environmental and engineering work in late 2016 with construction to be complete in late 2019.

SCRIP is consistent with the long-term vision for Union Station, which is to provide regional connections to local destinations through a variety of transit modes including bus, high speed rail, regional, intercity and commuter light rail expansions.  

11 replies

  1. It is amazing though that such a project with such visible benefits could not be funded for so long. This project will cost about $100 million more than the North Bound carpool connector bridge on I-5 to SR-14, with obviously much higher benefits