By JOHNATHAN GHAZAL
The new Arrow line service opened for commuters to ride starting Oct. 24. As an extension of the MetroLink lines through San Bernardino’s transit hub, the Arrow train will connect the East Valley of San Bernardino to the rest of the Metrolink network via the San Bernardino Downtown station. It is also referred to as “The Redlands Passenger Rail Project” with most of the stops along the line being located in Redlands.
People fill the Redlands Downtown station during the ribbon cutting ceremony next to one of the Arrow trains which was open to the public for viewing on Oct. 21. (JOHNATHAN GHAZAL/Ethic News photo)
The rail project “has been more than a decade in the making, featuring new tracks, enhanced street crossings, quiet zones, and five stations along the nine mile route between downtown San Bernardino and downtown Redlands,” according to the San Bernardino County Rail Authority.
A dedication ceremony was held to mark the opening of the Arrow Rail line to the public on Oct. 21. Representative Pete Aguilar was one of the speakers at the event who spoke about the importance of new infrastructure in our community and the use of energy-efficient trains in its rolling stock.
Many important figures, including California Representative Pete Aguilar, D-California 31, participated in the ribbon-cutting event during the dedication ceremony on Oct. 21 to commemorate the opening of the Arrow rail line at the Redlands Downtown station. (JOHNATHAN GHAZAL/Ethic News photo)
Afterward, attendees were permitted to tour one of the new Arrow trains, which was displayed at the Redlands Downtown station. They had the opportunity to walk through coaches and get a glimpse of the experience of coming onboard the train and feeling the modern design inside.
One of the new Arrow trains arrived at the Downtown Redlands station in the early morning for the first day of revenue service on Monday, Oct. 24. (JOHNATHAN GHAZAL/Ethic News photo)
The line was officially opened for revenue service on Monday, Oct. 24. The first trains arrived in Redlands around 6 a.m. Small crowds were grouped together in the frigid temperatures to watch the train, now open to the public. It was a mostly uneventful morning with fewer people boarding the train than standing on the platforms. To commemorate the opening of the Redlands University station, the University of Redlands offered refreshments to onlookers and passengers at the station.
All the trains in the rolling stock are all energy efficient by utilizing hybrid engines which will later be replaced by fully electric engines in years to come.
As Congressman Aguilar said, “until those oil companies stop gouging us at the pump, we’re going to have to get more creative with what we do. Investments in transit… one way we can do that.” The trains were originally meant to be light rail vehicles, but it would have surpassed the budget given by the state grant. Instead, the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority opted for heavy diesel trains.
Passengers wait for the Sante Fe passenger train as seen in this historic photograph from more than 90 years ago. (Credit: Redlands Area Historical Society)
The historic Sante Fe train line ran through Redlands starting with the construction of the original Redlands Sante Fe Depot in 1888, but the building we are familiar with today as the Redlands Downtown station was built in 1909 to replace the former structure, according to the National Register of Historical Places. Service of the Sante Fe line ended its passenger service in 1938. The introduction of the train was vital to the city’s export of oranges, as can be seen with the last operating packing house located along the train route.
The opening of the station to passengers after more than 80 years is a momentous occasion for the City of Redlands and its residents. Redlanders will now have access to the large Metrolink network, connecting commuters across Southern California.