The Central Coast Layover Facility project, which lays the groundwork for improvements in rail travel along California’s Central Coast, reached another milestone with recent site inspections and evaluations that will kick off engineering and environmental clearance processes.

In October, LOSSAN Agency staff and consultant support, in coordination with the Union Pacific Railroad, surveyed the recommended site for the new facility to identify possible environmental and design constraints.

The project is in the first of three phases (Environmental Clearance, Design, and Construction), and is funded by the state of California through the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) and the Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program (TIRCP), as well as Proposition 1B. The LOSSAN Agency was awarded funds for this and other projects to enhance the Pacific Surfliner service.

Improving Rail Travel

The Central Coast Layover Facility Project will enable service expansion not only for the Pacific Surfliner, but also for new regional services, which can provide additional public transportation options for the central coast region.

Currently, there is a single-track layover facility located directly across from the San Luis Obispo train station, which is the northernmost point of the Pacific Surfliner service. The facility can support only one Pacific Surfliner train at a time for storage and servicing at the facility before traveling south.

Draft concept of the preferred “full build-out” of the Central Coast Layover Facility. The actual facility will be constructed in stages.

While planning and construction of the new long-term facility is underway, additional track will be constructed at the existing facility so that a second train can be stored and serviced there in the near-term. This will allow the schedule to include additional trains to and from San Luis Obispo, which is expected to lead to increases in ridership and revenue for the Pacific Surfliner and additional options for travel along the LOSSAN rail corridor.

The new Central Coast Layover Facility will support the ability for trains to be refueled, cleaned, and inspected, and also receive minor repairs. Performing these activities in San Luis Obispo, where some trains begin and end their service each day, can keep the fleet better maintained, ultimately improving the reliability of the Pacific Surfliner trains and service.

Pacific Surfliner trains receiving maintenance.

The project creates additional opportunities for the city as well. The current facility concept allows for a pedestrian and bike trail to be built along the western edge of the new facility that will connect nearby residential units to the San Luis Obispo train station, making it more accessible to locals.

Preserving History

The proposed location of the new facility is within the Railroad District of San Luis Obispo, at the site of a former Southern Pacific roundhouse and locomotive maintenance facility that was built more than 100 years ago. The project will work to preserve and incorporate some of the original elements into the new facility.

Original roundhouse foundation
Original roundhouse foundation

Looking Forward

The LOSSAN Agency, the lead agency for this project, continues to collaborate with partners to secure funding and consultant support, as well as oversee activities in each phase. Planning and design work is being done in coordination with the City of San Luis Obispo, the San Luis Obispo Council of Governments (SLOCOG), Amtrak, and the Union Pacific Railroad. The project is currently wrapping up the master site plan and moving into the environmental clearance and preliminary engineering phase. As part of that phase, the community will have the ability to provide input to the project. This work is expected to be complete in the fall of 2021 with the adoption of the environmental document. Final design of the project is anticipated to be completed in late 2022 or early 2023, with construction anticipated to begin in mid- to late-2023.

Photos from the recent site inspections.