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Central Coast train tracks damaged by recent storm, some passengers have hours added to trip

Posted at 4:52 PM, Feb 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-02 13:52:47-05

Amtrak trains from San Luis Obispo to Santa Barbara and vice versa are temporarily suspended.

It's due to damage from our most recent Winter storm.

In the meantime, if you were planning on taking the train from San Luis Obispo to Santa Barbara you're going to have to take the bus instead.

This impacts the Pacific Surfliner, the Coast Starlight, and Union Pacific.

On Monday, a Coast Starlight passenger train at the train station in San Luis Obispo was at a standstill as a result of the schedule being altered.

Union Pacific said in an email to KSBY that the tracks were washed out.

"I didn't get much of a heads up at all," said Zachary Davis of Spokane, WA. "It was just they said they had already sent me a new itinerary via email but they didn't tell me there was an additional time switch."

"We got told yesterday," said Kagen Gooch of Jacksonville, Florida. "We got a call from the train station saying how we got to arrive here a little bit earlier. Get on the bus about 2:10 and take a 5 hour trip all the way up to Oakland just to be able to get home."

Pacific Surfliner sent out a couple of tweets saying that the tracks were impassable from Winter storms.

Pacific Surfliner Still.png

"I mean it's an inconvenience but life happens, I reckon," Gooch said.

Passengers have been re-routed all over the map having to take the bus.

"Santa Barbara to Bakersfield on bus. From Bakersfield to Hanford on train. Then from Hanford to here via bus again," Davis explained.

For passenger, Zachary Davis, there was no compensation for the switch from business class to coach.

It's also added on hours to trips.

"It added on about 7 to 10 hours to our trip," Gooch said.

We're told the damage is just north of the Lompoc-Surf station near Vandenberg Air Force Base.

We asked the Los Angeles - San Diego - San Luis Obispo - Rail Corridor Agency for a look at the damage but we're told they don't have any images to share due to the sensitive nature of the area.

Crews are working around the clock on culvert repairs and bringing in rock to stabilize the track and surrounding area.

The Union Pacific Railroad says the work however, is taking longer than expected.

This is not only due to the extent of the damage but also, the remote location and the need to access the site through sensitive areas of the air force base.

Meanwhile, with train service suspended until further notice just north of Goleta, passengers will have to travel by bus for the time being.

"It's kind of annoying really but it's not necessarily their fault for the rain washing that out. They got to fix it," said Jason Williams of Roseburg, Oregon.

A specific time frame for completion is still not known.

According to Union Pacific, several freight customers are impacted by the train track closure as well.