The Antelope Valley Line is a commuter rail line that serves the Northern Los Angeles County area as part of the Metrolink system. The line is rural in character because it travels through the sparsely populated Soledad Canyon between Santa Clarita and Palmdale, serving the small community of Acton along the way. Other portions of its route parallel the former US Route 6, now San Fernando Road and Sierra Highway.
The line began service on October 26, 1992, and was called the Santa Clarita Line at the time. It was one of three original lines in the Metrolink system along with Ventura County and San Bernardino lines.
The route initially ran from Los Angeles Union Station in Downtown Los Angeles to the Santa Clarita station making stops only at Glendale and Downtown Burbank stations.
Since the beginning of service, Metrolink had plans to extend the line north to the Antelope Valley but these plans were expedited by almost 10 years following the 1994 Northridge earthquake. The earthquake caused the collapse of the freeway connector of State Route 14 (the Antelope Valley Freeway) onto Interstate 5 (the Golden State Freeway) at the Newhall Pass interchange, forcing all traffic to use the parallel 2 lane truck bypass that was unaffected by the quake. With funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency the Southern California Regional Rail Authority constructed an emergency extension of the line to Lancaster to help relieve the traffic bottleneck. The U.S. Navy Seabees construction battalion and crews from the L.A. County Public Works Department were able to construct the stations in just a few days, compared to the normal three to six months. Emergency stations in Lancaster and Palmdale were both built in just three days and Metrolink started operating trains one week after the earthquake struck. Over the next five weeks additional emergency stations were added in Sylmar/San Fernando, Vincent Grade/Acton and Santa Clarita (Via Princessa). While most of the emergency stations have since been replaced with permanent stations, the Via Princessa station still uses the same platform built after the earthquake.
Saturday service on the Antelope Valley Line has been operating since 1999, Sunday service was added in September 2007. As of August 2013, weekend service has expanded to 6 trains on Saturdays and Sundays. Arrivals at LA Union Station are timed allow passengers to connect with Amtrak trains and trains on Metrolink's Orange County and San Bernardino lines.
Express service was added to the line in May 2011. Two express trains operate in the peak commute direction between Palmdale and Los Angeles (one southbound train in the morning, one northbound train in the evening). Express trains are about 18 minutes faster than an all stops train.
On April 30, 2015, Metrolink announced it will be offering discounted fares to riders on the Antelope Valley Line beginning July 1, 2015 as part of a pilot program. The fare pilot program, which will be in place for six months following the program's launch, will include several new ticket pricing options for riders on the Antelope Valley Line. There will be a 25 percent reduction in fares on all ticket types for trips along the corridor from Los Angeles to Lancaster, with the exception of the Weekend Day Pass, which will remain at its current $10 fare. In addition, a new "station-to-station" fare will be introduced in which riders traveling during off-peak hours (9 a.m. to 2 p.m.) will be able to purchase a one-way ticket to travel between stations for $2 per station. This fare is designed to encourage local trips using Metrolink as an additional mobility option complementing local bus service.
The Antelope Valley Line has 19 trains en route to Union Station and 19 trains en route to Lancaster on weekdays and six trains each way on weekends. As a commuter rail service, most weekday trains on the Antelope Valley line run during the peak morning and evening hours with the majority of trains operating southbound toward Los Angeles in the morning and northbound away from Los Angeles in the evening. There is limited mid-day and reverse commute service (northbound in the morning and southbound in the evening). Weekend service is more evenly spaced throughout the day.
As of the June 2016 timetable, only eight trains operate the full route from Lancaster to Los Angeles on weekdays and nine trains operate the full route from Los Angeles to Lancaster. Four southbound trains on weekdays originate in Palmdale and end in Newhall. The next available train with service to Los Angeles arrives in Newhall within 45 minutes. Most of the short turn trains have connecting North County TRANSporter bus service that takes passengers to or from the Palmdale station. All weekend trains operate the full route.
Two trains on weekdays operate on an express schedule in the peak commute direction (one train southbound in the morning and one train northbound in the evening) between Palmdale and Los Angeles making stops only at the Santa Clarita, Sylmar/San Fernando and Downtown Burbank stations.
The Antelope Valley Line serves 11 stations from north to south:Lancaster – Lancaster
Palmdale Transportation Center – Palmdale
Vincent Grade/Acton – South Palmdale/Acton
Via Princessa – Santa Clarita
Santa Clarita – Santa Clarita
Newhall – Santa Clarita
Sylmar/San Fernando – Sylmar/San Fernando
Sun Valley – Sun Valley
Downtown Burbank – Burbank
Glendale Transportation Center – Glendale
Union Station – Los Angeles
A new Bob Hope Airport-Hollywood Way station is being built to serve Antelope Valley Line passengers traveling to Bob Hope Airport. When completed, the station will be located near the intersection of San Fernando Boulevard and Hollywood Way and a free shuttle bus will take passengers to the airport terminal located 1 mile away from the station site.