Rail service from Port of Los Angeles to Merced County gets launch date

Central Valley farmers looking to export their goods across the world will have easier access to do so by the end of the decade.

Agricultural exporters in the northern part of the Central Valley could soon have a rail service link to the Port of Los Angeles. 

According to a report from the American Journal of Transportation, the rail service is just five years away from launching.  


The backstory: Six years ago the Merced County Board of Supervisors entered into an agreement with the Port of Los Angeles to create an inland port at the former Castle Air Force Base site. 

  • In July, the California Transportation Agency awarded a $49.6 million grant to Merced County to build an inland port at Castle Commerce Center. 
  • That grant will help the development of 70 acres at the site for shipment processing and docking, and expand the railway to the center. 

The big picture: The rail service between the Port of Los Angeles and Merced County could begin as soon as 2028. 

  • Eugene Seroka, Executive Director of the Port of Los Angeles, said last week that the port is targeting 2028 because of the extensive permitting and environmental work that will take time before the rail service can take off. 
  • The rail service is also scheduled to go live with the Atwater-Merced Expressway, which will, in part, provide a direct connection between Highway 99 and the Castle Commerce Center. 

What they’re saying: “This’ll help us across all sectors, find new ways to bring the Port of Los Angeles closer to our Central Valley ag farmers, ranchers, growers and producers,” Seroka said. “And that’s the goal. Regular rail service from Merced County to the San Pedro Bay would be ideal. And the key is to provide options for shippers in the Central Valley to best access their international markets. And an early survey showed of those who export from the Central Valley, they reached 90 different international countries. We’ve got to step up our game on the service provider side.”

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