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Rail News: Passenger Rail

Honolulu, Los Angeles to roll out new passenger-rail lines


By Julie Sneider, Senior Associate Editor 

Trains will begin running in June on two long-awaited passenger-rail lines in Honolulu and Los Angeles.  

On June 30, a fixed guideway and elevated system will begin passenger operations in Honolulu on an 11-mile stretch between the East Kapolei and Aloha Stadium stations. The Honolulu Department of Transportation Services will operate the line, assuming control from the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART), which is overseeing project construction.  

"This is truly a momentous and historic day for the island of Oahu," Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi said at a May 10 press conference announcing the new line’s opening date. "[This] marks the culmination of decades of hard work, perseverance and overcoming difficult challenges of every kind.” 

Construction on the project began in 2011 and has been plagued by repeated delays, cost overruns and executive leadership changes. In October 2022, the Federal Transit Administration approved HART’s recovery plan to complete the project within expected funding levels.  

With the FTA’s approval, HART became eligible to receive the remaining $744 million in federal dollars under a full funding grant agreement (FFGA). It was the first infusion of federal funds from the FFGA to the project since 2017. 

Now come June’s end, trains will run every 10 minutes on weekdays from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on weekends from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. An extension from Aloha Stadium Station to Daniel K. Inouye International Airport is slated to open in 2025, while full service to the Civic Center Station is anticipated to launch in 2031. 

When completed, the project could add up to a total cost of $10 billion to $12.45 billion, according to local media reports.  

One-seat ride across L.A. County 

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (L.A. Metro) will open its 1.9-mile Regional Connector light-rail line on June 16. The line will allow trains to travel between Union Station and the 7th Street/Metro Center Station in downtown L.A.’s Financial District.  

The $1.8 billion project will make it easier for riders to travel across L.A. County between Azusa and Long Beach, and between East Los Angeles and Santa Monica without transferring lines. The line will improve connections, bringing together the Metro L (Gold), A (Blue), E (Expo), B (Red) and D (Purple) lines at the 7th Street/Metro Center Station, L.A. Metro officials say. 

The Regional Connector includes three new underground stations: Little Tokyo/Arts District Station, Historic Broadway Station and Grand Avenue Arts/Bunker Hill Station. 

L.A. Metro contracted Regional Connector Constructors — a joint venture between Skanska USA Civil West California District Inc. and Traylor Brothers Inc. — to design and build the line. Pre-construction activities began in 2012, followed by heavy construction in 2014. 

“It’s hard to believe that what started out a decade ago with just drawings on a map is now a reality for Los Angeles County residents,” said L.A. Metro Chair Ara Najarian when announcing the opening date. 

The Regional Connector is a key component of L.A. Metro’s efforts to reduce traffic congestion on the county’s freeways and help the city prepare to host the 2028 Summer Olympics.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 6/12/2023