Octa's transportation blog

Metrolink Improves Rail Crossing near San Juan Capistrano

Metrolink has implemented cutting-edge ‘smart crossing’ technology known as a Wireless Crossing Nearside Station Stop (WCNSS) system at the Del Obispo Street crossing near the San Juan Capistrano Station. This technology, which went live at the crossing on June 1, 2024, creates a better experience for drivers and pedestrians while increasing safety for Metrolink passengers and the San Juan Capistrano community.

The WCNSS system will eliminate the ‘ghost train’ phenomenon that has plagued San Juan Capistrano residents. Previously, on approach to the San Juan Capistrano Station, trains would trigger the safety features at the downstream Del Obispo Street crossing. While the train was stopped at the station, the gate arms would recover – creating a ‘ghost train’ effect – before the safety mechanism was once again triggered as the train left the station.

“Installing WCNSS systems at railway crossings near stations is a crucial step forward that underscores Metrolink’s commitment to enhancing the safety and efficiency of our infrastructure,” said OCTA Director Doug Chaffee, also Metrolink Board Vice Chair and Orange County Supervisor. “Not only will this innovative technology alleviate frustration and improve the safety of San Juan Capistrano residents, it will also benefit communities across Metrolink’s system as it becomes more prevalent."

Upgrading crossings with the WCNSS system reduces traffic congestion and prioritizes safety by reducing wait times and deterring dangerous behavior such as drivers and pedestrians bypassing activated crossing gates. Metrolink continues to pursue new and emerging technologies to improve system performance and provide seamless and safe commuting experiences for passengers and the communities throughout Southern California in which Metrolink trains operate.

Initially, the new WCNSS system at the Del Obispo Street crossing will prevent southbound Metrolink trains scheduled to stop at the San Juan Capistrano Station from activating the crossing’s safety features until it has left the station. WCNSS technology is not yet available for other passenger train services operating on Metrolink’s rail lines, though plans to expand to Amtrak Pacific Surfliner are ongoing. Freight traffic will not be affected, as freight trains do not stop at the San Juan Capistrano Station.