The California High Speed Rail Authority's Board of Directors voted yesterday to approve an expenditure plan for the Link Union Station project, moving the long-proposed revamp and expansion of the historic transit hub closer to reality.

The funding plan adopted yesterday is considered the initial step towards the authorization and release of more than $423 million in Proposition 1A funds for the first phase of Link Union Station, which is centered on a decades-old plan for building "run-through”, tracks crossing over the US-101 Freeway.

Metro, which owns Union Station, intends to package the Proposition 1A money with additional state and local funds - including nearly $400 million from the Transit and Intercity Capital Rail Program.  The agency has identified approximately $950 million in funding for Link Union Station.

A second phase of the project, currently unfunded, calls for raising the Union Station rail yard to provide clearance above the adjacent freeway trench, as well as the expansion of an existing pedestrian tunnel into a larger passenger concourse.  The $2.3-billion plan adopted in June 2019 by the Metro Board of Directors would also add new retail to the station and account for on-site private development.


The new tracks above the freeway trench would enable trains to access Union Station from both the north and south, enabling one-seat rides between San Luis Obispo and San Diego.  Currently, each of the 170 passenger trains that serve Union Station each day must enter and exit through the "throat" tracks to the north of the rail yard, resulting, resulting in roughly 20 minutes of idling time.

Through-routing at Union Station would be a boon to Amtrak - which operates the popular Pacific Surfliner train between San Diego and San Luis Obispo - and also to the Metrolink commuter rail network, which is planning its own capital program with the goal of nearly quadrupling ridership by 2028.

For California High Speed Rail, the run-through tracks create more direct connection on the Burbank-Anaheim corridor.  A later phase of the project, connecting the system to San Diego and the Inland Empire, would also serve Union Station.

Metro currently intends to complete the Link Union Station project by 2026, well in advance of the 2028 Summer Olympic Games.