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No timetable for reopening train service through San Clemente amid landslide cleanup

SAN CLEMENTE CA JANUARY 25, 2024 - Workers in San Clemente continue to clear the tracks following a landslide in San Clemente that occurred on Wednesday, Jan. 24. Passenger rail service between the Laguna Niguel/Mission Viejo and Oceanside stations remained suspended due to a landslide that again sent boulders and debris onto the tracks and damaged the Mariposa Trail Bridge in San Clemente. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
Workers clear train tracks after a Wednesday landslide in San Clemente disrupted rail service between Orange and San Diego counties. (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)

Train service between Orange and San Diego counties remains disrupted after a landslide in San Clemente with no timetable for reopening the tracks through the area, a spokesman for the regional rail authority said Saturday.

The Wednesday slope failure sent debris onto the tracks in the southern Orange County city, halting service the between Laguna Niguel/Mission Viejo and Oceanside stations, and stranding Metrolink and Surfliner passengers.

Efforts to repair the damage will continue through the weekend, said Metrolink spokesperson Scott Johnson, and has required the removal of two "large sections" of the Mariposa Pedestrian Bridge so that workers could access the affected hillside.

"Currently the removal of soil is taking place but they are doing so very methodically to ensure it doesn't trigger an additional landslide," he said.

This weekend, Metrolink trains will operate as far south as San Juan Capistrano. Beginning Monday, weekday trains will operate only as far as the Laguna Niguel/Mission Viejo Station. Metrolink is not offering alternative methods of transportation to stations that its trains are unable to access.

Amtrak Pacific Surfliner train service is operating as far south as San Juan Capistrano, and buses are being used to ferry passengers between Irvine and San Diego, Johnson said.

The landslide is one of several recent ones to disrupt rail service in the area. Another in 2022 led to a six-month stoppage of full passenger service.

The weather forecast for next week could put a damper on the repair work in San Clemente. Casey Oswant, a meteorologist in the National Weather Service's San Diego office said that precipitation is expected Thursday and Friday.

"It will shift to rainier, colder and windier" weather, she said.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.