PRO: Why Rail is Essential to San Diego

Without rail San Diego cannot meet its mandatory state, federal, and local climate and greenhouse gas goals nor will we solve congestion on our roadways. Our quality of life depends on a modern, integrated, transportation system including rail. Some essentials:


  • 60 trains per day currently run through Del Mar, increasing to 100 per day by 2030. We are the second busiest rail corridor in the country.
  • Every freight car can remove 4 semi-trucks from the freeway.
  • A new mile of freeway costs about $62 million. A new mile of rail costs only $1-2 million.
  • Every passenger train can carry the same number of passengers, per hour, from Oceanside to San Diego as a new freeway lane.
  • Our rail line is publicly owned. The incremental cost to add more trains is minor compared to the costs for new roads.
  • All transportation is subsidized. The largest subsidy goes to cars and trucks in the form of taxpayer funded roads, freeways, subsidized oil and gas exploration, and more.
  • Amtrak service is under federal, not local, control, and BNSF Railway has contractual rights to operate and grow independent of local control.
  • The line is part of the Federal Strategic Rail Corridor Network (STRACNET) integral to national defense.
  • The line is essential to the Port of San Diego and its $8 billion per year in economic activity. 
  • Only the Coaster is subject to local control. If the Coaster were eliminated the rail line must remain for these other services. 
  • The rail corridor carries about 8 million riders and $1 billion+ in goods per year. Those numbers will grow significantly under the new Transportation Plan proposed by SANDAG.
  • We need to look at the future, not the past, in evaluating transportation.
  • That future is bright, including new technologies, automated cars and trucks, zero emission rail service, and more.
  • Per SANDAG, increasing transit ridership from its current 2% to about 10% (13% is projected) will meet our climate and congestion goals and rail is key to that effort. 
  • Councilmember Quirk is an outlier in advocating elimination of rail service and he has not proposed a realistic plan for how this could be achieved. His viewpoint is not supported by the Del Mar council, by SANDAG, by NCTD, by Amtrak, by the state, by the feds, or by the experts. 

Thanks to Mr. Quirk and the Sandpiper for providing this forum and a civil discussion of this important topic