City of Del Mar Information

Since the mid-1990s, the North County Transit District and City of Del Mar have had ongoing discussions about railroad trespassing and the need to create safe and legal access along the railway on the Del Mar bluffs.


NCTD is committed to developing a solution for the railway along the Del Mar Bluffs that promotes rail safety and, ensures reliability, and provides safe access.  

For project background, recent developments, and next steps read more.


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Del Mar-Specific Questions

Del Mar Review of Historical Documents
Why is NCTD proposing fencing? 

NCTD is committed to developing a solution for the railway along the Del Mar bluffs that promotes rail safety and ensures reliability 

From January 2016 to October 2020 there have been 4 deaths on the railway along the Del Mar bluff. 

In addition to public safety risks, trespassing events result in approximately two hours of service delays for customers and freight, and subjects NCTD and other railroad operators to lawsuits.   

The Del Mar Bluffs Safety Enhancement project seeks to promote rail safety and reliability, while continuing safe and legal coastal access along the Del Mar Bluffs. 

How is NCTD working with the City of Del Mar and Coastal Commission to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement? 

NCTD is willing to review all safe and legal crossing improvement projects with partner municipalities. Existing Board Policy No. 18 supports collaboration with entities that desire to implement safe and legal crossings. Board Policy No. 18 is premised on the fact that local entities are in the best position to determine if, where, and when projects like quiet zones and crossings will be built.  Accordingly, the application and funding responsibility for crossings and quiet zones is vested with local entities pursuant to Public Utilities Code §§ 1201-1205 and Federal Code of Regulations Title 49, Part 222.  

Will the proposed fencing installation impact the stability of the Del Mar Bluffs?

NCTD contracted with Leighton Consulting, Inc. to analyze the impacts, if any, of the proposed fencing on the stabilization of the bluffs.

The geotechnical review validated that the proposed fencing would “not impact the stability of the bluffs or the trackbed support, nor promote additional erosion/bluff retreat.” 

Full Report

What is NCTD hoping to achieve in filing the Petition with the Surface Transportation Board? 

The petition seeks to: 

  • Eliminate regulatory uncertainty related to local and state efforts to regulate rail maintenance and upgrades; and  
  • Eliminate regulatory uncertainty related to the applicability of the Coastal Zone Management Act’s Federal Consistency Review and the Coastal Act’s permitting requirements.

This petition will help provide certainty for transportation and partner agencies and improve overall budget and planning efforts related to critical rail maintenance and safety projects. 

How does the Petition with the Surface Transportation Board impact the region’s approach with stabilizing the Del Mar Bluffs? 

NCTD filed the petition with the Surface Transportation Board following significant analysis and internal discussion that included input, feedback, and approval from NCTD’s Board of Directors and advance consultation with the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG).  NCTD strives to work collaboratively with the communities that we serve and believes this petition will provide clarity for NCTD, SANDAG (as its project implementation agency), and the public in regard to the scope and requirements of review for timely advancements of critical rail maintenance and safety projects along the Del Mar Bluffs. This certainty will also improve budget and scope planning, which in turn will allow critical state of good repair projects to be completed in a timely manner. 

How does the Petition with the Surface Transportation Board impact the proposed fencing project? 

Safety is of the utmost importance to NCTD, and the agency seeks to do all it can to protect the rail right-of-way and enhance the safety of the railroad through mitigation of trespassing.  The proposed project would fall within the determination of the Surface Transportation Board decision of 2002 in which STB stated that “no discretionary permitting would be required to install the fence”. This petition to the Surface Transportation Board would provide much needed clarity in regard to the scope of review other regulatory bodies may or may not have in order to provide certainty for all agencies moving forward. 

Would pedestrian bridges or other pedestrian infrastructure along the tracks be the responsibility of NCTD or the City of Del Mar?  

Pedestrian bridges or other pedestrian infrastructure across the railroad tracks are considered a railroad crossing, and are the responsibility of the City of Del Mar. NCTD is willing to review all safe and legal crossing improvements with partner municipalities, provided they meet necessary safety and permitting requirements and align with Board Policy No. 18 and are approveby the applicable regulatory agencies.