San Bernardino-Redlands Passenger Rail
Proposals for a rail connection between the two cities have been made as early as the 1990s; at one point, service was projected to start in 1995, while more recent projections pegged the start date at 2007 or 2013, and the latest plans are for service to start between 2015 and 2018.
The current plan was announced in September 2010 by the San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG). At the time, potential options for the mode of transportation included Metrolink service, other types of electrified or diesel trains and buses. In April 2011, SANBAG announced that it had settled on conventional heavy rail equipment for the service. While electrified light rail was preferred, its $268.1 million cost was over the $250 million limit for the federal Small Starts transit grants that would have been used. The estimated cost of heavy rail service was $198.6 million, which can be paid for using federal transportation grants that are based on population and sales tax revenues. By 2011, the estimated cost of construction had dropped to an estimate of between $130 million and $150 million.
The route will be over a 9-mile (14 km) ex-Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway line. Plans are for five initial stations, three in Redlands and two in San Bernardino, and an initial ridership of between 1,600 and 1,800 passengers daily.
The first contract for the project was awarded on 2 November 2011 by SANBAG to HDR, Inc. for engineering and environmental services. The contract was an amendment to an existing contract for HDR to work on a separate project in the region, the extension of Metrolink's San Bernardino Line to a new terminus within San Bernardino. Work was initially expected to begin in late 2012 or 2013, with estimates of the beginning of service ranging from 2015 to as late as 2018.
On November 1, 2013, a local press report quoted an estimate that the start of construction was "at least three years down the road" (i.e. that it would not happen until the fall of 2016), citing unexpected federal environmental impact regulation and the government shutdown in October 2013 as the reasons why the initial timetable for construction had slipped.
The most recent official statement on the status of the project, a SANBAG brochure published on February 26, 2014, states that "construction is planned to begin in late 2015 with operation in 2018."
The first phase of construction will include replacing all track on the line, rebuilding five bridges, and installing 24 grade crossings.
Depending on funding availability, phase two of the project would see light rail vehicles or diesel multiple units replace the conventional rolling stock, the construction of five more stations, and additional passing sidings to allow 15-minute peak period headways and 30-minute off-peak headways. The estimated construction cost is between $80 million and $100 million for light rail or between $225 million and $300 million for diesel multiple units. Running costs would be between $11 million and $14 million for light rail or between $12 million and $16 million for diesel multiple units. A potential further phase would expand trackage in a loop to Highland and the San Bernardino International Airport before returning to downtown San Bernardino.
- "Imperfect Rail Solution". The Press-Enterprise. Riverside, California: Press-Enterprise Corporation. 16 May 2011. Archived from the original on 4 November 2011. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
- "Contract awarded for California commuter line". Trains Magazine. Waukesha, Wisconsin: Kalmbach Publishing. 2 November 2011. Retrieved 6 November 2011.
- "Passenger rail connection to Redlands still years away". The Press-Enterprise. Riverside, California: Press-Enterprise Corporation. 9 September 2010. Archived from the original on 5 November 2011. Retrieved 6 November 2011.
- "Redlands Passenger Rail Project contract awarded". Railway Gazette International. Sutton, Surrey: DVV Media UK Ltd. 2 November 2011. Archived from the original on 5 November 2011. Retrieved 6 November 2011.
- "REDLANDS: Passenger Rail Plan Slowed by Shutdown". The Press-Enterprise. Riverside, California: Press-Enterprise Corporation. Archived from the original on 5 November 2011. Retrieved 6 November 2011.
- "TRANSPORTATION: Metrolink trains will connect Redlands, San Bernardino". The Press-Enterprise. Riverside, California: Press-Enterprise Corporation. 1 November 2013. Archived from the original on 15 January 2014. Retrieved 15 January 2014.
- "Redlands Passenger Rail Project Fact Sheet". Press Release. San Bernardino, California: San Bernardino Associated Governments. 26 February 2014. Archived from the original on 22 April 2014. Retrieved 21 April 2014.