The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), in coordination with the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and Riverside County Transportation Commission (RCTC), is studying options for providing intercity rail service between the cities of Los Angeles and Indio, CA, for the Coachella Valley-San Gorgonio Pass Corridor Investment Plan Project.
The Coachella Valley-San Gorgonio Pass Corridor Investment Plan Project would extend from a western terminus at Los Angeles Union Station to an eastern terminus at Coachella, and consists of two sections:
- Western Section – This section extends between Los Angeles Union Station and Colton and has an approximate distance of 68 miles. This corridor section is planned to utilize existing rail infrastructure owned by BNSF Railway and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
- Eastern Section – This section is approximately 73 miles long between Colton and Indio, and includes a potential extension of approximately 3 miles further east to Coachella. This section is planned to utilize the only existing rail line within this portion of the corridor, the Union Pacific Railroad Yuma Subdivision.
Passenger train frequencies proposed as part of the project will consist of two daily round-trip intercity passenger trains operating the entire length of the corridor between Los Angeles and Indio (or Coachella), with one morning departure and one afternoon departure from each end of the corridor.
The Coachella Valley-San Gorgonio Pass Corridor Investment Plan Project is intended to serve a range of purposes for travel between the Coachella Valley and the Los Angeles Basin, including business, social, medical, leisure, and recreational trips. The introduction of intercity passenger rail service connecting the Coachella Valley with the Los Angeles Basin would provide a competitive, attractive, cost-efficient, and reliable alternative to automobile, commercial bus, and commercial air travel in the corridor.
Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) are currently developing a joint Tier I Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report (EIS/EIR) for the Coachella Valley-San Gorgonio Pass Corridor Investment Plan Project to comply with federal and state laws, in particular the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
FRA is the lead federal agency for the environmental review required by NEPA and related statutes. As such, FRA has determined that the preparation of a program-level (Tier 1) EIS is the appropriate NEPA document classification because of the broad scope of the corridor and conceptual stage of planning.
The project’s Tier 1 EIS/EIR and Service Development Plan will define the service mode, operational strategy, and required infrastructure improvements necessary to implement the proposed intercity passenger rail service. Also included in this Tier 1 EIS/EIR is a program-level environmental evaluation of the proposed service.
On October 11, 2016, FRA published a Notice of Intent to prepare a Tier 1 EIS for the Coachella Valley-San Gorgonio Pass Corridor Investment Plan Project. The notice described the environmental process and detailed the scoping that would take place. Scoping meetings were held in October 2016 to gather comments about the project from the public and key stakeholders.Next Steps
The Draft Tier 1 EIS/EIR is currently in development. Additional project information can be found at RCTC’s project website.