Press Release

Legislation to Revitalize Southern California Rail Passes Senate

SACRAMENTO – Legislation by Sen. Catherine Blakespear, D-Encinitas, to revitalize the rail corridor that runs from San Diego through six Southern California counties to San Luis Obispo passed the Senate on Thursday.

SB 1098, which follows on the work of the Senate Transportation Subcommittee on LOSSAN Rail Corridor Resiliency chaired by Sen. Blakespear, aims to provide stronger management, support and a new vision for the rail line to optimize passenger service.

The bill passed on a 37-0 vote and goes to the Assembly next for consideration.

“First and foremost, we need a long-term coordinated plan to ensure our rail line is getting the investment and support it needs to reach its potential,” Sen. Blakespear said. “SB 1098 sets the foundation to address critical resiliency challenges facing the LOSSAN Rail Corridor and improve its operations so rail service can become more reliable and effective at transporting Californians where they need to go.”

There has been growing concern in recent years over the LOSSAN Rail Corridor’s vulnerability. Unstable bluffs or hillsides and coastal hazards in areas across the 351 miles have resulted in prolonged shutdowns to rail service – including five times in Orange County over the last three years, most recently from late January to late March. SB 1098, for the first time, creates a framework to facilitate coordinated planning and prioritization of goals between the many stakeholders that are responsible for and rely on the corridor every day.

Hearings held by the Senate LOSSAN subcommittee in 2023 highlighted the importance of the rail line, which is the nation’s second-busiest intercity rail corridor with the potential to significantly increase ridership with improved planning and coordination while affirming the urgency to identify solutions to coordinate between local agencies and the state. It is imperative to address resiliency challenges and grow ridership to meet the state’s mobility and climate goals.

Advocates, stakeholders and the media have encouraged the state to take bolder action to protect the track from future threats and enhance service.

SB 1098 has four main components. It would:

  • Direct the California State Transportation, Environmental Protection, and Natural Resources Agencies to create a clear list of prioritized projects along the corridor to both improve services and protect critical infrastructure and natural resources from coastal hazards. The state will also recommend how to better support these shared goals. 
  • Form a regional working group to identify locally-driven recommendations that create a clear path forward for management, governance and operations that result in improved services along the corridor.
  • Require regular reporting to the Legislature on the performance, operations, and resiliency of the corridor.
  • Clarify the role of the state secretary of transportation to provide regular guidance and recommendations to stakeholders to support the LOSSAN corridor.

Last year, Sen. Blakespear authored SB 677, which was signed into law. It directs the LOSSAN Rail Corridor Agency – which oversees the corridor in coordination with rail owners, operators and planning agencies – to include an assessment of the effects of climate change in its annual business plan that outlines the agency’s major goals and objectives. The assessment must also identify projects to increase climate resiliency and funding options for those projects.

Elected in 2022, Sen. Blakespear represents Senate District 38, which covers northern San Diego County and part of southern Orange County. To learn more about the district and Sen. Blakespear, visit her Senate website.