A large sinkhole that opened up over the weekend forced Amtrak to close a major stretch of railway yesterday, resulting in the cancellation of all trains traveling between San Luis Obispo and Los Angeles.
Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said 11 Amtrak trains scheduled to run yesterday and today – five southbound and six northbound – have been canceled. Currently, there are no trains running from the Santa Barbara area to Los Angeles, Magliari said.
Santa Barbara Amtrak Station Operator James Massifitt said southbound trains are continuing normally on their routes until reaching San Luis Obispo, at which point passengers heading for Los Angeles must travel the rest of the way by bus. Buses are also operating in place of northbound trains from Los Angeles to San Luis Obispo.
Massifitt said landslides south of Santa Barbara have left large boulders on the tracks, further suspending train services.
The tracks will remain closed until late this afternoon at the earliest, Magliari said, and it is not yet known if the tracks will be open by Tuesday.
Massifitt said weather conditions over the next few days will dictate when the tracks – owned by Union Pacific – can be reopened.
“Union Pacific has to inspect the tracks. They have to make sure there are no other sinkholes or landslides, or if the tracks have moved,” he said.
As of press time, the amount of damage to the tracks was unknown. The SB County Fire Dept. had not yet been notified of the sinkhole, and there are no known injuries.