The Point: Public will be invited to comment on draft technical studies this year  

Daily passenger rail service between Los Angeles and the Coachella Valley? Yes, please! While service is still in the distance and funding has not been identified, the Riverside County Transportation Commission is continuing to plan for this new travel option, with an opportunity for the public to view and comment on studies this spring or summer.

RCTC, Caltrans, the Federal Highway Administration, and local partners joined forces in 2015 to make the Coachella Valley-San Gorgonio Pass Rail Corridor Service Project a reality. The project team completed an Alternatives Analysis in 2016 and is nearing completion of a draft “Tier 1 Program” Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) and a Service Development Plan.

The draft EIR/EIS proposes twice-daily service from L.A. via Fullerton, Colton, and the San Gorgonio Pass to Indio or Coachella. The 145-mile route would take approximately 3.25 hours and offer an alternative to the often congested 91 and Interstate 10.

The Tier 1 environmental analysis addresses broad questions and impacts of the project but does not identify station locations or other specific infrastructure needs for the new service. More detailed studies would be conducted as part of a future Tier 2 environmental analysis, which would involve station selection and determining rail improvements required for the proposed service. RCTC and its project partners are exploring funding to develop the Tier 2 environmental analysis.

Other technical modeling also has been completed, including how the trains will travel through the higher elevations in the San Gorgonio Pass and maintain speeds for effective travel.

In the months ahead, RCTC will host meetings to invite public comment on the draft studies. Depending upon health conditions related to COVID-19, meetings will be either virtual or in-person, with multiple opportunities to offer feedback on this stage of the planning process. Following the public comment period, the team anticipates project approval by the end of 2021. If funding can be secured, work then could begin on the Tier 2 environmental studies, followed by detailed project design, and then construction.

To receive project updates and notice of upcoming meetings, visit and follow the project on Facebook @CVRailProject.