Heavy rains cause NCTD track closure along Del Mar bluffs for Nov. 30

A train crosses the bluffs in Del Mar last December.
(Union-Tribune file photo by John Gibbins)

The heavy rainstorms over the last 48 hours have caused a washout adjacent to the coastal railroad tracks along the Del Mar bluffs just south of Coast Boulevard which support COASTER, Amtrak, and BNSF operations. At this time, all trains can safely operate at restricted speeds through the area based on site reviews and inspections conducted by railroad engineers. NCTD and its contractors will have personnel on-site monitoring trains as they pass through the area until repairs have been completed on the tracks.

In order to repair the washout area, NCTD will be closing the tracks south of Solana Beach train station and implementing bus replacement service beginning at 6 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 30.

Following is detailed information about the operating plan for Saturday, Nov. 30.

COASTER: COASTER trains will run a regular Saturday service schedule from Oceanside Transit Center to Solana Beach COASTER station. Passengers will be bus bridged between the Solana Beach train station and Santa Fe Depot. Northbound COASTER passengers who board the COASTER south of Solana Beach station will be bused all the way to Oceanside Transit Center. Passengers between Solana Beach station and Oceanside Transit Center going north will be served by the train per the regular schedule.

Amtrak Pacific Surfliner: Service and schedule changes will be in effect for Amtrak. Please visit PacificSurfliner.com or call 800-872-7245 for more information.

Regular scheduled train service will resume on Sunday, Dec. 1 for both COASTER and Amtrak.

“Safety is NCTD’s top priority,” said NCTD Executive Director Matthew Tucker. “NCTD is committed to acting proactively to ensure that passenger and freight operations can be safely operated. NCTD and the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) are advancing phased improvements to make the bluffs more resilient and prevent service impacts like this washout.”

The repairs for the washout will require excavating, setting new steel plates in place, and backfilling with concrete slurry to shore the bluff material and ensure the safety of the bluffs. Residents and local businesses should expect significant noise in the area from work trucks and heavy construction equipment from 6 a.m. to midnight. NCTD apologizes for this impact and will make every reasonable effort to mitigate impacts related to the repair.

NCTD is designated as the Federal Railroad of Record for the coastal tracks from the Orange County line to downtown San Diego. As such, NCTD is responsible for the operations, maintenance, and safety of the rail line. Additionally, NCTD has contractual agreements with BNSF and Amtrak that include specific obligations to ensure the safe and reliable movement of goods and people both locally and inter-state.

Coastal bluffs are formed through a combination of erosion from wind, sea spray, and crashing waves. The Del Mar bluffs experience natural erosion resulting from wave action, wind, and inclement weather, along with erosion resulting from people walking on the bluffs, preventing the growth of natural vegetation that in turn would help protect them from erosion. Approximately 1.7 miles of NCTD’s tracks are on the Del Mar bluffs. On average, the bluffs will naturally retreat on an average of six inches per year. Engineering studies completed by SANDAG and the City of Del Mar’s Sea-Level Rise Adaptation Plan highlight the need for action to ensure the safe operations of passenger and freight rail service. Each time a bluff failure occurs, NCTD annuls train traffic until inspections are complete verifying that the bluffs are safe for regular rail operations.

For up-to-date information about the rail closure, bus bridges, and any subsequent delays, follow NCTD on Twitter at @GoNCTD or call NCTD Customer Service at 760-966-6500. For information about the projects being advanced by NCTD and SANDAG, visit SANDAG’s Keep San Diego Moving at www.keepsandiegomoving.com/Lossan-Group/Lossan-del-mar-bluffs.aspx — News release