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Oceanside Station, Third Track – A Letter from the NCTD Executive Director

Dear Stakeholders and Interested People:

NCTD has received feedback regarding the operations of trains at the Oceanside Transit Center (OTC) – specifically new operations and staging of trains based on the third track and rail station project.

As background, the Oceanside Transit Center project was developed to add a third track and crossovers in the City of Oceanside connecting to the existing OTC track at approximately MP 226.4 (collectively, the “3rd Track”). NCTD, the City of Oceanside, and the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) were involved in an extensive outreach program to the community prior to design and construction of the project. This was in an effort to ensure that the public was aware and provide feedback regarding the proposed project and its potential impacts to the area.

The new track and platform provides additional capacity and supports improved on-time performance for all trains on the San Diego Subdivision. In addition to COASTER and Amtrak Pacific Surfliner trains, Metrolink operates 16 weekday trains and 12 weekend trains out of OTC. In addition, one of the weekday trains and two of the weekend trains have a layover at OTC in excess of 45 minutes.

Prior to the implementation of the 3rd Track, trains and passengers could be subject to delay and hold out from OTC until a rail platform was available for the train to stop. The 3rd Track project also is intended to support operating efficiency for trains, such as Metrolink, that use OTC as a terminal location. Prior to the implementation of the 3rd Track and platform, Metrolink trains were required to travel approximately five miles to NCTD’s Stuart Mesa Operations and Maintenance Facility on Camp Pendleton and then return back to the platform to begin revenue operations.

The cost of implementing the 3rd Track project was $26 million and was funded using federal, state, and local funds. NCTD has a fiduciary responsibility to ensure that the project benefits are fully achieved. With that said, NCTD also has a responsibility to be a good neighbor. Accordingly, I have directed staff to:

  1. Communicate with Metrolink to provide direction that locomotives must be shut down if the train will remain at the station longer than 60 minutes or to move the train to our Stuart Mesa Operations and Maintenance Facility; and Evaluate the feasibility and timeline for implementing auxiliary power at OTC so that locomotives can be shut down while key systems such as air conditioning remain operational.
  2. Please be assured that NCTD will work collaboratively with the City and residents to achieve positive outcomes and the public benefits that supported the project improvements. Based on the feedback that has been received, NCTD has developed Frequently Asked Questions regarding the 3rd track project.

Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact NCTD’s Customer Service Department at (760) 966-6500 or you can submit questions or comments online at www.gonctd.com/contact.
Matthew O. Tucker
Executive Director

Frequently Asked Questions

Oceanside Third Track Project

1. What train(s) will utilize this new track? COASTER? Metrolink? Amtrak? Freight?
The OTC 3rd Track is part of the San Diego rail subdivision and available for use by any authorized train with direction from the rail dispatching center. After construction ends, the main use of the new platform is currently planned for COASTER trains. However, while Platform 1 is still closed for construction, all trains that previously used Platform 1 will be using the 3rd Track platform. It is anticipated that construction on Platform 1 will be finished by October 2017. At that time, the operating pattern at OTC will be modified to support Amtrak and Metrolink primarily using Platforms 1 and 2, and COASTER using the 3rd Track Platform.

2. Is there a specific daily schedule for the 3rd Track?
The station schedule is available at www.GoNCTD.com/COASTER

3. What time is the earliest and latest train operation at this new track?
The first scheduled departure from OTC is at 4:38am, and the last scheduled departure from OTC is at 11:57pm.

4. How long will trains be permitted to idle at this new platform south of the OTC?
Less than 60 minutes.

5. What kind of security protocols will be put in place to patrol the new platform?
Closed Circuit Security Cameras have been installed as part of the project to allow NCTD to monitor the activity on the platform and shelter. NCTD is also engaged in discussions with the City of Oceanside to provided dedicated law enforcement at OTC.

6. What are the hours of access to this new platform?
The public access to the platforms coincides with train operations as specified in NCTD’s public schedules.

7. What is/will be the horn policy for SPRINTER when passing this platform once the new track is operational?
FRA regulations state: Under the Train Horn Rule (49 CFR Part 222), locomotive engineers must begin to sound train horns at least 15 seconds, and no more than 20 seconds, in advance of all public grade crossings. The pattern must be repeated or prolonged until the lead locomotive or lead cab car occupies the grade crossing. More information on train horn rules can be found at https://www.ecfr.gov.

8. What are the new platform (or 3rd Track) emissions requirements?
NCTD’s operations are compliant with emission requirements. With that said, NCTD is in the early planning stages to acquire funding and complete planning work to purchase Tier IV locomotives which meet the highest standard for reduced emissions.

9. Does NCTD have any plans to monitor any other potential impacts on the environment or surrounding areas?
SANDAG, as the project lead, ensured that the necessary mitigations associated with the project were addressed through all applicable environmental regulations (California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and/or National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)). NCTD has and will continue to work proactively and collaboratively to harmonize our operations within the communities that we serve.