Coast Line (UP)

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Bridge at Gaviota State Park, seen from the beach

The Coast Line is a railroad line between Burbank, California[a] and the San Francisco Bay Area, roughly along the Pacific Coast. It is the shortest rail route from Los Angeles to the Bay Area.


The first version of the Coast line, via Saugus and Santa Paula through the Santa Clara River Valley, was completed by the Southern Pacific Railroad on December 31, 1900.[1][2] The Montalvo Cutoff crossed the Santa Clara River to serve the farmers in the Oxnard Plain and was extended to Santa Susana in Simi Valley. The Santa Susana Tunnel opened in 1904 connecting with the Chatsworth cutoff from Burbank (34°14′57″N 119°12′46″W / 34.24917°N 119.2129°W / 34.24917; -119.2129) and thereafter was the main line.[3][4] In 1907, the Bayshore Cutoff opened from San Bruno 37°37′52″N 122°24′43″W / 37.631°N 122.412°W / 37.631; -122.412 to San Francisco; in 1935 the new line around San Jose opened from 37°20′29″N 121°54′46″W / 37.3414°N 121.9127°W / 37.3414; -121.9127 to 37°17′05″N 121°50′34″W / 37.2848°N 121.8427°W / 37.2848; -121.8427 and thereafter was the main line. Ownership is now with Caltrain north of Santa Clara (about 37°21′23″N 121°56′36″W / 37.35649°N 121.94336°W / 37.35649; -121.94336), and Union Pacific Railroad, which merged with the Southern Pacific (SP) in 1996, from there to the north end of Moorpark (about 34°17′06″N 118°53′28″W / 34.28488°N 118.891°W / 34.28488; -118.891) and Metrolink south of there. In the golden era of passenger service SP trains on the San Francisco leg of this route ran from the Third and Townsend Depot in San Francisco to the Union Station in Los Angeles. The Oakland-Los Angeles trains originated from the 16th Street Station in Oakland.


Portion of route shown in gray on statewide rail modernization map

Union Pacific freight trains run on the route, although the San Joaquin Valley route is the primary north–south California route.[5]

The Coast Line is an important link for one of the busiest passenger routes in the nation. The route hosts passenger trains for Amtrak and Metrolink trains: Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner from San Luis Obispo to San Diego and Metrolink's Ventura County Line from Los Angeles Union Station to east Ventura, as well as Amtrak's Coast Starlight which connects Los Angeles to San Jose Diridon Station, Oakland Jack London Square station, and points north.

Local agencies along with the host railroads formed the Los Angeles–San Diego-San Luis Obispo Rail Corridor Agency (LOSSAN) in 1989 to work together on upgrading the route that extends from San Luis Obispo to San Diego. Millions in enhancements to improve the reliability and safety of this 351-mile-long (565 km) railroad corridor have been proposed by Caltrans and federal railroad officials. Ventura County would get rail curve realignments near Seacliff, the Santa Clara River and Montalvo in the near term for an estimated $300 million. Future rail service could include a Ventura–Santa Barbara commuter rail service.[6] Long-range plans also including commuter service between Ventura and Santa Clarita along the original route through the Santa Clara River Valley. The Ventura County Transportation Commission purchased the Santa Paula Branch Line within Ventura County from Southern Pacific. While a portion of the line was abandoned after being washed out in Los Angeles County, the proposed Newhall Ranch development will provide for a route through the community.[7]

Passenger trains[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Institute For American Research. "Chronology of Goleta Depot" South Coast Railroad Museum website. Accessed 30 October 2013
  2. ^ Ryan, MaryEllen and Breschini, Ph.D., Gary S. "Railroads of the Central Coast—An Overview" Monterey County Historical Society Website Accessed 23 March 2014
  3. ^ "Southern Pacific Company, 20th Annual Report" (December 10, 1904) The Economist
  4. ^ "CHATSWORTH PARK CUTOFF LINE OPENS TODAY" Los Angeles Herald 20 March 1904. Volume XXXI, Number 173, page 2
  5. ^ Norbom, Mary Ann (30 August 2016). "Ride historic railcars along the coast". Santa Ynez Valley News. Retrieved 3 September 2016. 
  6. ^ Clerici, Kevin (January 9, 2011) "Camarillo meeting to address train projects" Ventura County Star
  7. ^ Lozano, Carlos V. (April 29, 1992) "SANTA CLARITA : Panel Says Rail Line to Cost $45 Million" Los Angeles Times