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Railroads Operating in Los Angeles County

railroad, trains, Metrolink, Union Station, Los Angeles

The engine of the Amtrak Pacific Surfiner at Union Station, Los Angeles. Los Angeles Almanac photo.

In 1995, Burlington Northern merged with the Atchinson Topeka & Santa Fe Railway to form Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway. The following year, Southern Pacific Lines was acquired by Union Pacific Railroad.

Railroad Transports Began Service in Los Angeles Note
Amtrak Passengers 1971 Amtrak, formed in 1971, is the national passenger railroad of the United States and operates nationally as a quasi-public corporation.
(Southern California Regional Rail Authority - SCRRA)
Passengers 1992 SCRRA was formed by transportation authorities in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Ventura counties, and Oceanside in San Diego County to be the region's joint commuter rail agency. Metrolink became its moniker.
Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway (BNSF) Freight May 31, 1887* BNSF is a Class I railroad that operates nationally. It dates back to 1849.
Los Angeles Junction Railway (LAJ)
(owned by Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway since 1972)
Freight 1923 LAJ is a short-line neutral switching railroad, operating between BSNF and UPRR in the industrial areas of Vernon, Maywood, Bell and Commerce. LAJR was acquired by Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway in 1972, which merged with Burlington Northern RR in 1995.
Union Pacific Railroad Company (UPRR) Freight 1905 (or, actually, 1876) Union Pacific is a Class I railroad that operates nationally. It dates back to 1862.
Pacific Harbor Line (RHL)
(owned by Anacostia & Pacific)
Freight 1998 Pacific Harbor is a short-line shipping container hauler, operating at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. It was established in L.A. County.

* Then as Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway, which merged with Burlington Northern Railroad in 1995.
† Southern Pacific Railroad, which was merged into UPRR in 1996, had itself first reached Los Angeles on Sep. 5, 1876.

Los Angeles & San Pedro Railroad becomes the first railroad in Southern California in 1869. Source: USC Digital Library.

The first rail transportation into Los Angeles was the Los Angeles & San Pedro Railroad, built by General Phineas Banning in 1869. The first rail station in the city was located at Alameda and Commercial streets. The station burned down in 1924.

Over 4,000 Chinese construction workers built the first rail line into Los Angeles from San Francisco for the Southern Pacific Railroad. The line was completed on September 5, 1876, when a gold spike was driven into the final railroad tie at the now extinct town of Lang in the Santa Clarita Valley.

On June 1, 2000, The State of California partnered with Amtrak to unveil the new Pacific Surfliner brand, replacing the San Diegan name for trains operating on the San Diego-Los Angeles-San Luis Obispo corridor. The moniker "San Diegan" had been a legacy name left over from the days Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway operated a passenger line along the route.

On October 18, 1982, CalTrain Commuter became the first regional commuter rail service to operate out of Union Station. The line provided service between Los Angeles and Oxnard. It was short-lived, however, ending operations barely six months later. Seven years later, on April 30, 1990, Amtrak launched the Orange County Commuter line. It delivered commuters on a single-daily weekday round-trip between San Juan Capistrano and Los Angeles, with stops along the route. On March 28, 1994, the line was handed over to Metrolink.