SP Coast Line, Los Angeles to Ventura

This route covers the following subdivisions:

Mileposts are increasing northward from LAUS as far as Burbank Junction, and decreasing northward to San Francisco thereafter. The line is entirely CTC-controlled, from Metrolink’s Pomona Dispatching Center as far as CP Las Posas, and by UP from the joint LA area dispatching center in San Bernardino thereafter. There are two main tracks from CP Taylor to CP Raymer (between Van Nuys and Northridge), and single track with passing sidings thereafter.

From Los Angeles as far as Chatsworth, the line runs through the urban fabric of Los Angeles. Leaving Los Angels Union Station (el. 347 ft.) and turning north at Mission Tower, across and along the Los Angeles River, past the Metrolink maintenance facilities and then the UP Taylor locomotive maintenance facilities, in separate parts of what was once SP’s massive Taylor Yard, the line from LAUS to CP Taylor is part of the Metrolink River subdivision covered under Downtown Los Angeles.

North of the crossovers at CP Taylor (MP 3.5), the line passes under the Glendale Freeway and then immediately passes over Fletcher Drive on a bridge. From here to Burbank Jct. the line follows the original “B” line of the original Southern Pacific transcontinental main line, constructed in 1874. There are signals at CP Fletcher (MP 4.8) and a connection to a 7,343 ft. siding, “the slide”, on the east side of the line. The tracks pass over Glendale Boulevard on a bridge. Until 1955 this was the site of the Glendale Interlocking, controlling the grade crossing of the SP and the Pacific Electric Glendale line. Just north of Glendale Blvd. is the Glendale Amtrak-Metrolink-Greyhound-Glendale Beeline station (MP 5.8, el. 432 ft.), which has a magnificently-restored former SP mission revival style depot building on the east side of the tracks, with parking to its north and south, also on the east side of the tracks. Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner trains stop towards the south end of the platforms, while Metrolink trains stop towards the north end of the platforms. (Amtrak’s Coast Starlight is long enough that parts of it are in both parts of the station.) Amtrak bus connections to San Joaquin and San Diego Surfliner trains also use the station.

After the Glendale station, the line crosses over Los Feliz Boulevard on a bridge and there are crossovers at CP Currier (MP 6.4), and the north end of that siding. Along here, the route heads north through some of the earliest industrial areas of greater LA (including the original airport facilities in the area-no longer connected to an airfield-at Grand Central Air Terminal). There is a grade crossing at Chevy Chase drive, a bridge over Colorado Boulevard, a grade crossing at Broadway, a spur to lineside industry on the west side of the track at MP 7.4, detectors on both main tracks at MP 7.8, and a grade crossing at Doran Street. Route 134 passes overhead on a bridge immediately north of that road crossing, with San Fernando Road alongside the tracks on the east. Just north of Route 134 is Glendale’s Grayson power generating facility and the Verdugo Wash bridge.

There are grade crossings at Grandview Avenue and Sonora Avenue. Western Avenue passes overhead on a bridge. There are crossovers at CP Allen (MP 9.8), a bridge over Alameda Avenue, Burbank, and then I-5 passes overhead on a bridge, as does Olive Avenue. The Burbank Metrolink station (MP 10.8) has an ornate depot on the east side of the tracks, platforms on both tracks, and parking on both sides of the tracks.

Magnolia Avenue passes over head on a bridge, there are signals at CP Olive (MP 11.1), which controls the south end of the Brighton siding on the Antelope Valley Line.  This is also where the former SP Burbank Branch diverged to the west with a wye from the west track, followed by the Burbank Boulevard bridge over the tracks and the junction at CP Burbank Junction (MP 11.3/462.6, el. 594 ft.), where there are crossovers, two main tracks diverge to the west and one continues straight ahead.

The Coast Line separates from the Antelope Valley line (formerly the SP San Joaquin Division, the “B” line) at Burbank Junction and runs diagonally towards the northwest corner of the San Fernando Valley. The route from Burbank Junction to San Francisco is the former SP’s “E” line, the coast main line. It was a part of the Los Angeles Division to San Luis Obispo (and the Western Division north of there; in the 1960s and before there was a Coast Division from Santa Barbara to San Jose.)  The original coast line connected Ventura to Saugus via the Santa Clara River valley through Santa Paula and Fillmore. Due to congestion between Saugus and Burbank E.H. Harriman constructed the “Montalvo Cutoff” between Montalvo and Burbank Jct. via Oxnard, Moorpark and Chatsworth. This was rather expensive construction, including the 7369-foot Chatsworth tunnel and the 1753-foot bridge over the Santa Clara River. The Montalvo cutoff is now the main line; the line through Santa Paula declined in usefulness and was lost to washouts in the 1978 storms.

Immediately west of the junction, the line passes over Victory Place on a bridge. There are more signals at this location (part of the signaling for Burbank Junction). The area north of the tracks (now a shopping center) is the site of the original Lockheed Aviation factories and airstrip, and later the famed “skunk works” where secret plans from the P-80 to the F-117 were designed and constructed.  The line crosses Buena Vista Street on a road crossing; Vanowen Street comes alongside to the south and Empire Avenue to the north. There are crossovers at CP Lockheed (MP 460.8), and the line crosses over Hollywood Way on a bridge. There is an Amtrak-Metrolink station at Burbank Airport (MP 460.6), which is walking distance to the airport.  Immediately west of the station the line passes the end of the Burbank Airport and a road crossing at Clybourn Avenue, and the streets alongside turn away or end.

The line crosses Vineland Avenue and Tujunga Avenue at grade. There is a spur track on the south side east of Tujunga Avenue. The line then crosses Lankershim Boulevard, Sherman Way, Laurel Canyon Boulevard, the Hollywood Freeway and Whitsett Avenue (adjacent to the freeway) on bridges. There are grade crossings at Bellaire Avenue and Coldwater Canyon Avenue. There is a lineside spur on the north side of the tracks, crossovers at CP Woodman (MP 458.1) that control the east end of the UP “Gemco” yard, bridges over a flood control channel and Woodman Avenue, and the Amtrak-Metrolink station at Van Nuys (MP 455.0). This has a depot and parking lot on the south side of the tracks. The former General Motors car assembly plant at Van Nuys was once alongside the tracks (mostly to the north) in this vicinity. Gemco yard is still quite active with local freights delivering cars to the Anheuser-Busch brewery, Los Angeles Times, and other customers in the valley.

The line bridges over Van Nuys Boulevard and Raymer Street comes alongside to the south of the tracks. There is a footbridge over the tracks at Willis St., the line crosses over the Pacoima Wash, there is a private grade crossing at “All Aboard” and a bridge over Sepulveda Boulevard. There is a single right-hand power crossover at CP Elliker (MP 453.7), followed by I-405 passing overhead on a bridge. Immediately west of that bridge is the Anheuser-Busch brewery on the north side of the tracks, with additional facilities on the south side (where the erstwhile Busch Gardens Aviary once was, and where a footbridge once going to the latter remains). There is a grade crossing at Woodley Avenue, the two main tracks reduce to one at CP Raymer (MP 453.1), and there are grade crossings at Roscoe Boulevard, Balboa Boulevard, and Lindley Avenue. East of Lindley Avenue, the track is bordered by stands of trees on both sides, while west of that street there are signals at MP 450.

The line bridges over Parthenia Street, where there is a signal on the bridge, there is a detector at MP 451.3, the line bridges over Reseda Boulevard, and there is a Metrolink station at Northridge (MP 449.3), with its parking lot on the south side of the track. There is a bridge over Wilbur Wash immediately west of the station, the line crosses Tampa Avenue at grade, passes under the Nordhoff Way bridge, and crosses Corbin Avenue, Winnetka Avenue and Mason Avenue at grade. There are signals at CP De Soto (MP 446.8) which is the east end of the 11,300-foot Chatsworth siding, a grade crossing at De Soto Avenue, a bridge over Browns Canyon Wash as the line turns due north, and a grade crossing at Lassen Street.

The Chatsworth Amtrak-Metrolink station(MP  445.5)  has a depot and parking lot on the east side of the track between Lassen Avenue and Devonshire Street This is one of two (Sylmar is the other) with a child care center in the station, there are also a snack counter and local council district offices in the building and bus stops on the opposite side of the station. The tracks cross Devonshire Street and Chatsworth Street at grade along the siding, then  CP Topanga (MP 444.4) at the north end of the siding, with a detector at MP 444.5, just south of the latter.

West of Chatsworth, the lines passes through the famous ‘Chatsworth Rocks’ area, now permanently changed from its appearance in the days of steam by the extension of Topanga Canyon Boulevard to reach the Simi Valley freeway to the north. The line curves from north to west, passes through 537 ft. tunnel 28 at MP 443.9, emerging under Topanga Canyon Boulevard with Santa Susana Pass road adjacent on the north side, turns south through a rock cutting, passes through 924 ft. tunnel 27 (MP 442.9), emerges onto a high ledge above Chatsworth park as it curves west again and then passes through 7,369 ft. tunnel 26 (MP 441.2) under thousand foot high Santa Susana Pass.The bold sandstone mountains along this line are covered in the typical Southern California brush and yellow grass (except in spring, when the grass is green).

The line then enters the Simi Valley, with a 7,625 ft. siding starting at CP Hasson (MP 440.8) and ending at CP Santa Susana (MP 439.2). Along the way, it passes under Santa Susana Pass Road and passes the relocated Santa Susana Depot, now home to a model railroad club, on the south side of a curve to the northwest. There are grade crossings at Katherine Road and Hidden Ranch Drive. The Simi Valley Amtrak-Metrolink station (MP  437.9) is on the north side of the tracks, with a large parking lot in the southwest corner of Hidden Ranch Drive and Los Angeles Avenue, as the line curves due west and comes along the south side of Los Angeles Avenue.

Almost immediately, Los Angeles Avenue crosses the line at grade (MP 437.7) and then runs along the south side of the track. There is a detector at MP 437.4. The line then crosses, in turn, Tapo Street, Tapo Canyon Road, Sequoia Avenue and Sycamore Drive. There are signals (MP 435) just to the east of the latter. The line then crosses Erringer Road at grade before turning away from its due westerly course to angle to the west-northwest. The line crosses First Street at grade. Here, in May 2004, is a portable building and a number of trucks belonging to the Metrolink Maintenance of Way folks, on the north side of the line just east of the crossing. There is another detector at MP 434.3.

The line now leaves the suburban housing of Simi Valley and enters an area alternating between grassy hills and light industry. There are signals at CP Strathearn (MP 432.9). the east end of an 8,400 ft. siding. The line passes under Madera Road surrounded by light industry. A separate segment of Los Angeles Avenue comes alongside from the south. There are more signals at CP Madera (MP 431.1) at the west end of the siding. There is a grade crossing at Quimisa Drive, at the entrance of Oak County Park, followed by a grade crossing of Los Angeles Avenue as the line angles west-southwest and the street meets the 118 Freeway in Moorpark.

Now in the valley of the Las Posas Arroyo, the line crosses the Arroyo Simi four times in the next three miles, and passes through the Virginia Colony, where it crosses Virginia Colony Place, crosses the arroyo on a girder bridge below a bluff on the south side of the track, passes under the bridges of the Route118/23 connector and crosses the arroyo for the last time and goes on into the old center of Moorpark. There are signals at CP Colonia (MP 427.6), the east end of 4,806 ft. Moorpark siding, a grade crossing at Spring Street, and the Moorpark Metrolink station (MP 427.1). The latter has parking on both sides of the tracks, and platforms on both sides and in the center of the tracks. The abandoned feed mill on the north side of the tracks was styled to represent the old SP Moorpark depot, west of the current station, and has no connection with the latter.

Moorpark Avenue grade crossing is at MP 427.0; west of the road crossing there are Metrolink storage tracks on the south side of the line. Poindexter Avenue runs alongside the lien to the south as the line exits the suburbs and enters the farming countryside. There are signals at CP Las Posas (MP 426.4) the west end of Moorpark siding and the limits of Metrolink ownership.  (At this point the Metrolink (actually old SP) mileposts have an equation with the current UP mileposts because the UP remapped their line after the SP merger.  There is about a three-mile difference in mileposts here). Next is a grade crossing at Gabberts Road. A little further to the west, yet another segment of Los Angeles Avenue comes alongside the line to the south. There is a detector at MP 421.1, a grade crossing at Grimes Canyon Road and signals at MP 420.7. The line bridges over Mejico Creek, crosses over to the south side of Los Angeles Avenue at grade, then runs in a small cutting along the south side of that street. There are signals at Lagol (MP 419.3) in that cutting, west of Long Canyon Creek.

The line angles southwest, away from the Los Angeles Avenue and comes along the south side of Somis Road, heading south-southwest. There is a private road crossing at Hagel Lumber Company, and signals for the Somis spur at MP 416.4. Along the east edge of Camarillo, where Somis Road becomes Lewis Road, there are grade crossings at Upland Road and Adolfo Road. There are signals at CP CO 415 (MP 414.7, the “east/south” end of 9,995 ft. Camarillo siding. US 101 crosses overhead on a bridge, there is an Amtrak/Metrolink station in Camarillo, with parking to the west side of the tracks and platforms on both tracks, the line passes under Lewis Road in an area of light industry. There are signals at CP CO413 (MP 412.5), the west end of Camarillo siding. A short way further west, now out in the fields again, the line crosses Pleasant valley Road, comes alongside 5th Street and both street and line turn due west, with the street on the south side of the track. The territory is mostly open agricultural fields; in the distance to the north is the Camarillo airport (once an Air Force Base).

Some distance further west through the fields, the line crosses Las Posas Road at grade, there are signals at MP 410.5 and more signals at MP 409. The line crosses Wood Road at grade, there are signals at Leesdale (MP 408.7), the line crosses Pleasant Valley Road at grade (again), and bridges over Revelon Slough. There are signals at MP 407, the line crosses Del Norte Boulevard at grade, there is a signal on a spur to the north side of the track serving lineside industry, and the line crosses Rice Avenue at grade. There are signals at CP CO 406 (MP 405.6), the east end of 5,701 ft. Oxnard siding. The line crosses Rose Avenue at grade. There is a signal at a spur going off to the south side of the line and crossing Fifth Street. As the line starts to make a sweeping curve to the north, the old SP Oxnard depot is on the south side of the track. There is a junction with the Ventura County Railway halfway around the curve, followed by the Oxnard Amtrak-Metrolink station. The latter has a depot on the southwest side of the curve, adjacent to the Ventura County connection. There is parking to the south of the depot. The single platform is on the west side of the track, extending north from the depot and under the Third Street bridge that crosses the tracks at this point. Oxnard yard is busy with local industry and interchange with the Ventura County Railway., which serves Port Hueneme and the US Navy base.

Heading north, now, alongside Oxnard Boulevard (State Route 1) to the west of the line, there are signals at MP 404, the north/west end of Oxnard siding. The line crosses Cooper Road, Colonia Road, Gonzales Road and Vineyard Avenue at grade.  There is a detector at MP  402.6. Curving northwest, the line crosses over Oxnard Boulevard on a bridge as the street runs into a freeway entrance for US 101. The line crosses Ventura Road on a bridge that is continuous with the bridge over the Santa Clara River that follows. At the west end of the river bridge, the line crosses over Johnson drive on a quite new-looking bridge.

With Leland Street alongside on the southwest side, and US 101 alongside at a higher level on the northeast side, the line reaches the junction with the Santa Paula Branch (once the original coast main line, now the Montalvo Industrial lead) at CP 0400, the Montalvo wye. The line curves to the west to CP 0399, the west leg of the wye.  Both legs of the wye pass under US 101 which bridges overhead. The east leg of the wye curves sharply east to join the west leg, which heads directly eastward as it departs the main line. There are signals at the apex of the wye. Metrolink’s Montalvo station is a single platform along the north side of the west leg of the wye, adjacent to the Ventura Boulevard grade crossing that lies immediately northeast of the US 101 embankment. Metrolink’s Montalvo crew base is at the east end of the station, and there is a single-track storage yard across from the station platform. This is the western limit of Metrolink’s operations.

The main line turns due west along the alignment of the Santa Paula line (the original route through this location), passing under Victoria Avenue, which bridges over the west junction and its signals. Just a little further west, the line turns west-northwest. Telephone Road crosses on a bridge. The line bridges over the Arundell flood control channel, next to a private grade crossing, and then passes underneath US 101 at the former SP station named “Lemon”. There are signals at MP 397.2 for the east end of 10,470 ft. Ventura siding.. The line bridges over Seaward Avenue and Sanjon Road. There are signals at MP 394.8 at the west end of Ventura siding, and the line turns due west and crosses over US 101 on a massive through truss bridge, passing under a freeway on-ramp, and crossing Chestnut Street at grade immediately to the west of the US 101 bridge. The Ventura Amtrak station (MP 394.0) is immediately west of the Figueroa Street road crossing. There is a single platform between the south side of the track and the adjacent Harbor Boulevard, with the Ventura County Fairgrounds across the street to the south (sandwiched between the street and the Pacific Ocean).

West of the station, there is another grade crossing, the line crosses the Ventura River on a combination of structures including a through truss bridge and comes alongside the Pacific Ocean whose shore it will follow for quite some distance.