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San Diego County, California/LOSSAN Rail Corridor

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LOSSAN Rail Corridor

San Diego County, California

(November 1998)


The Los Angeles-San Diego Rail Corridor Agency (LOSSAN), a Joint Powers Authority operating in Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego counties, was created to improve the rail system between San Diego and Los Angeles, along a 126-mile corridor with 21 stations (11 joint commuter rail/intercity stations and 10 commuter rail-only stations). This rail corridor is used by both passenger (intercity and commuter rail) and freight service. LOSSAN is implementing a long-range plan to improve the safety, capacity and speed of inter-city rail service between Los Angeles and San Diego.

The proposed five-element rail improvement program would provide intercity rail capital enhancements to the terminal facility at Los Angeles Union Station; expand the parking supply at the Irvine, Oceanside, and Solana Beach Amtrak stations; and stabilize the railway roadbed in the City of Del Mar An earlier project implemented grade-separation improvements at three sites (Commerce in Los Angeles County, Fullerton in Orange County, and Solana Beach in San Diego County).

Total project costs for the program of improvements in the LOSSAN Rail Corridor equal $60.6 million (escalated dollars).

LOSSAN Rail Corridor Summary Description

Proposed Project Inter-city Rail Improvements
126 miles in length; 21 stations
Total Capital Cost ($YOE) $60.6 million
Section 5309 Share ($YOE) $44.2 million
Annual Operating Cost ($1996) $18.0 million
Ridership Forecast 650 daily new riders
FY 2000 Financial Rating: Low-Medium
FY 2000 Project Justification Rating: Not Rated
FY 2000 Overall Project Rating: Not Recommended

The overall project rating applies to this Annual New Starts Report and reflects conditions as of November 1998. Project evaluation is an ongoing process. As new starts projects proceed through development, the estimates of costs, benefits, and impacts are refined. The FTA ratings and recommendations will be updated annually to reflect new information, changing conditions, and refined financing plans.


Section 1010 of ISTEA identified five corridors nationwide to be developed into high-speed rail corridors. One of these corridors is the Los Angeles-San Diego (LOSSAN) State Passenger High Speed corridor. TEA-21 Section 3030(b)(26) authorizes the LOSSAN Rail Corridor for Alternatives Analysis and Preliminary Engineering. Through FY 1997, Congress appropriated $19.89 million in Section 5309 New Start funds for several grade separation projects. The Solana Beach grade separation project is currently under construction, while the Fullerton and Commerce projects are to begin constructions this fiscal year. The Fullerton and Solana Beach projects each received $6.7 million of previously appropriated funds. The City of Commerce site has received $8.0 million in previous appropriations.

There was no Congressional appropriation for LOSSAN rail improvements in FY 1998 or FY 1999.


The LOSSAN agency was created to implement a program of rail system improvements in the three-county area of Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego. This program of rail projects is to be completed over a five-year horizon, and each individual project is under $20 million. A formal Major Investment Study or an Alternatives Analysis was not prepared for this project because it is an incremental intercity rail service improvement project. For the most part, LOSSAN’s New Starts criteria were not estimated in conformance with FTA’s Technical Guidance on Section 5309 New Starts Criteria. The Land Use evaluation focuses primarily on the Los Angeles CBD, and the other three station areas for which improvements are planned. N/A indicates data is not available or cannot be confirmed by FTA for a specific measure.


Mobility Improvements

Rating: Not Rated

The elements of the proposed project are terminal improvements, parking facilities, and bluff stabilization. These improvements will not result in travel time savings for rail passengers in the corridor.

Mobility Improvements New Start vs. No-Build New Start vs. TSM
Annual Travel Time Savings (Hours) N/A N/A

Based on 1990 Census data, there are approximately 4,370 low-income residents within ½ mile radius of the Union Station, Irvine, Oceanside, and Solana Beach stations, approximately 24 percent of total households within ½ mile of the proposed stations.

Environmental Benefits

Rating: Not Rated

The EPA air quality designation for the Los Angeles area is extreme and the designation for the San Diego and portions of Orange County are serious. LOSSAN did not submit information on project benefits.

Criteria Pollutant New Start vs. No-Build New Start vs. TSM
Carbon Monoxide (CO) N/A N/A
Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) N/A N/A
Hydrocarbons (HC) N/A N/A
Particulate Matter (PM10) N/A N/A
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) N/A N/A

LOSSAN did not submit information on energy savings of the proposed improvements.

Annual Energy Savings New Start vs. No-Build New Start vs. TSM
BTU (millions) N/A N/A

Operating Efficiencies

Rating: Not Rated

LOSSAN estimates the following systemwide operating cost per passenger mile for the existing system in 1998.

Operating Efficiencies No-Build TSM New Start
System Operating Cost per Passenger Mile (1998) $0.17 N/A N/A

Values reflect 1998 ridership forecast and 1998 dollars.

Cost Effectiveness

Rating: Medium

LOSSAN estimates the following incremental cost per new rider as compared to the No-Build.

Cost Effectiveness New Start vs. No-Build New Start vs. TSM
Incremental Cost per Incremental Passenger $13.97 N/A

Values reflect "near term" ridership forecasts and 1997 dollars.

Transit-Supportive Existing Land Use and Future Patterns

Rating: Medium

The Medium rating reflects planned development opportunities around several stations which are proposed for improvement. While the Los Angeles CBD contains 300,000 jobs, Union Station is located on the far outskirts of the CBD and is separated by a major freeway and underutilized land; a transfer to bus or rail transit is necessary to reach most CBD employment. The Solana Beach and Oceanside stations are located in small downtown areas, while the Irvine station is located in a low density, auto-oriented environment. Planned redevelopment in all but the Irvine station area is focused on improving pedestrian and transit access. Regional planning agencies throughout Southern California are promoting transit-oriented development, but few local jurisdictions along the LOSSAN have adopted specific plans or policies to accomplish transit supportive development. Little information was provided on local zoning regulations near LOSSAN stations.

Local Financial Commitment

Proposed Non-Section 5309 Share of Total Project Costs: 27%

LOSSAN estimates the total cost of the five element program at $60.6 million in escalated dollars. Of this amount, $44.2 million (73 percent) is proposed for Section 5309 New Starts funding, $13.2 million (23 percent) is proposed for state funding, and $2.1 million (4 percent) is proposed for local funding.

Stability and Reliability of Capital Financing Plan

Rating: Low

The capital plan rating reflects the lack of committed local funding for most elements of the rail improvement program. Each of the five elements of the proposed improvement program employ distinct funding assumptions. While the Del Mar Stabilization project and the Oceanside Transit Center Parking Structure demonstrate a committed source of local funding, the other station areas (Union Station in Los Angeles, Irvine, and Solana Beach) have little or no local funding commitments. Up to $48 million in additional state resources have recently been made available for intercity projects statewide; LOSSAN is pursuing this funding to meet the non-Federal share of project costs.

Stability and Reliability of Operating Finance Plan

Rating: Not Rated

No information was provided on system operations. The proposed LOSSAN improvements do not provide new transportation service - the five elements are all infrastructure improvements.

Locally Proposed Financing Plan

(Reported in $YOE)

Proposed Source of Funds Total Funding
Appropriations to Date
Federal: Section 5309 New Start $44.2 $0.0 million appropriated through FY 1999 for the rail improvement program. $19.89 million appropriated for prior improvements.
State: $14.1


Local: $2.3


Total: $60.6

Note: Funding proposal reflects assumptions made by project sponsors, and are not DOT or FTA assumptions. Totals may not add due to rounding.

[LOSSAN Rail Corridor Map (PDF)]

Commitment to Accessibility: DOT is committed to ensuring that information is available in appropriate alternative formats to meet the requirements of persons who have a disability. If you require an alternative version of files provided on this page, please contact