Repair crews sidetracking Surfliner trains

Union Pacific has started a major maintenance project on its rail lines on the Central Coast, and as a result Amtrak passengers will face disruptions to Pacific Surfliner service from San Luis Obispo through February.

Aaron Hunt, director of corporate relations and media for Union Pacific, said the freight company has nearly 300 workers replacing 7,000 ties, miles of rail and 580 feet of road crossings.

The work started last week and is being done on the lines running between San Luis Obispo and Gaviota State Beach, Hunt said.

“The tie replacement phase of the project will be ongoing through February,” Hunt said, “but residents of the area will see various parts of the work being done throughout the year into the fall.”

He said Union Pacific is investing about $6 million into the maintenance work. “This regularly scheduled maintenance will enhance velocity and capacity for freight and passenger service,” Hunt said in response to an e-mail query.

Surfliner service will be limited to buses transporting Amtrak passengers to and from San Luis Obispo.

Trains 775 and 799 will operate between Southern California and Goleta only. Passengers bound for San Luis Obispo will need to catch an Amtrak bus in Santa Barbara.’

Southbound trains 774, 798 and 792 will originate in Goleta, so any passengers from San Luis Obispo will need to be bused to Santa Barbara.

Amtrak buses can be boarded at the train station in San Luis Obispo.

Scheduling impacts differ per train line, so for the latest information, go to www.Amtrak.com.

Also affected by the Union Pacific’s work is Amtrak’s Coast Starlight, which runs from Los Angeles to Seattle.

Both northbound and southbound trains will depart all stations two hours later, and this change will be in place through March, Amtrak officials said.

Passengers can also call 1-800-USA-RAIL for more information.