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Metrolink Dispatching Delaying Surfliner 567

by Chris Guenzler

For years Surfliner 567 would meet Metrolink 600 at CP Serra, that was until a little over two weeks ago when something must have changed. Surfliner 567 would now be waiting for over 20 minutes at CP Songs for Metrolink 600 and then would have to wait for Surfliner 566 at CP Capistrano. By the time this train got to Santa Ana it would be over thirty minutes late. Before it would run by Metrolink 600 at CP Serra and meet Surfliner 566 at CP Solow.

Now let us look at the trains involved with this situation. Surfliner 567 carries daily over 220 passengers with about 30 Metrolink Monthly Pass Riders aboard. This is a train that people use to go to work and appointments. Passengers use this train to connect to other Metrolink Trains in Los Angeles. Such trains as Metrolink Train 362 to San Bernardino at 11:20 AM and Metrolink Train 207 To Lancaster also at 11:20 AM. Passengers use this train to take the Flyaway Shuttle to LAX. Metrolink 600 carries 30 passengers all though that total can go up if the weather is hot. Those numbers are to Oceanside out of San Clemente.

What happens if Surfliner 567 is over thirty minutes late. Passengers trying to take Metrolink Trains are delayed even more. If they miss the 11:20 AM Train to San Bernardino they now must wait until 12:20 PM to take the train on that line. If they are trying to go on the Antelope Valley Line to go to any stations as far as Via Princessa they must wait for Metrolink 209 at 1:55 PM. If they are trying to go beyond Via Princessa to let say Lancaster they now must wait until 3:45 PM. Let us say these delays to passengers should not be happening but they are. Remember Surfliner 567 also stops at Laguna Niguel/Mission Viejo and Orange so you could call Surfliner 567 a Metrolink Train so thus they are delaying one of their own trains.

After living through these delays I decided to do something about them. On Thursday August 19, 2010 I called Metrolink and told them what was going on and that I would write a story about it. On Friday August 20, 2010 I decided to ride Metrolink 600 down to Oceanside to get their side of the story.

Metrolink 687 came into Santa Ana and left for Los Angeles.

Next Metrolink 600 came into Santa Ana. We ran to Tustin, then Irvine, Laguna Niguel and San Juan Capistrano where we left at 9:18 AM before we went into the siding at CP Capistrano and went down to CP Serra where we waited for Surfliner 567.

Surfliner 567 came by at 9:27 AM on time and we left CP Serra at 9:28 AM. The train stopped at North Beach.

The train passed the San Clemente Pier.

This is CP Songs where Surfliner 567 had been waiting for the last two weeks. We arrived into Oceanside at 9:56 AM or one minute late. The solution to all this would have Metrolink 600 leave Los Angeles at 8:05 AM instead of 8:00 AM. I waited for Surfliner 769 to come into Oceanside.

Surfliner 769 arrived into Oceanside to take me back to Santa Ana. Was this problem solved?

Monday Morning I took Surfliner 562 like normal to Solana Beach and waited for Surfliner 567. One problem has been at Oceanside is that they do not bring the baggage cart out until the train is ready to leave so we lose time there. We left Oceanside at 9:01 AM, three minutes late so blame two minutes on slow baggage. We met Surfliner 564 on double track but here is a problem. By running us on Track 1 we must slow to 40 MPH at CP Plugas and then can not get back up to track speed of 90 MPH until we are about miles north due to the grade. If they run us on Track 2 and we do not have to stop we do not lose any time. We came to CP San Onofre at 9:16 AM and slowed to a stop at CP Songs.

Red signal at CP Songs as we waited.

At 9:36 AM Metrolink 600 finally came by. We were delayed 22 minutes once we got on the move again. We went into the siding to meet Surfliner 566 before we arrived into San Juan Capistrano now thirty minutes late. I detrained at Santa Ana at 10:33 AM thirty five minutes late.

One final thought. The General Public expects scheduled trains to run on time and plan their life accordingly. So Metrolink please fix this problem from continuing.