Another landslide in San Clemente has put a halt on passenger train service in south Orange County yet again this year. 

But Monday’s latest service disruption comes with a significant development:

“This is the first time that materials have gotten onto the tracks,” said San Clemente Mayor Chris Duncan in a Monday phone interview.

It comes more than a week after train service in the area had resumed in the wake of an April 27 landslide in the same area, which caused nearby buildings to be red-tagged and forced emergency construction work to stabilize the hillside beneath the historic Casa Romantica estate off Avenida Granada. 

Construction crews had just finished final cleanup on the weeks-long project on Sunday night, Duncan said.

On Monday morning, the hillside slid again. 

“We thought we had stabilized everything. We were good to go,” said Duncan. “And then this morning, about 7 a.m., some crack started to appear up towards the top. And then it just started sliding, and it slid about five feet, six feet down.”

As of Monday, officials weren’t sure how long the passenger train service would be shut down.

“There is no immediate timeline for the resumption of service,” reads a Monday statement from Metrolink.

The previous April 27 landslide came just two weeks after the railway bounced back from an earlier six-month suspension of passenger service due to a landslide that, a few miles south, moved the tracks by about 28 inches between 2021 and 2022. 

[Read: Orange County’s Coastal Train Service is Back; But for How Long?]

The shifting tracks had put passenger train service on hold since September of last year, and recurring heavy rains since the project began in October led to delays in efforts to reinforce the privately-owned slope between the ocean and San Clemente’s Cypress Shore neighborhood.

And in March, a landslide in the city’s Buena Vista community brought part of a residential hillside crumbling down near a public trail and rail tracks below.

The incident prompted federal and city officials to call for the relocation of certain tracks along the coastal rail line that’s eroding due to beach sand loss and climate change.

[Read: Officials Red-Tag Four Buildings and Call for Rail Relocation After San Clemente Landslide]

On the latest landslide this week – “Geotechnical engineers are assessing the situation now,” said Orange County Transportation Authority spokesperson Eric Carpenter in a Monday email. 

He said it’s unclear how long the closure will last this time around.

“Currently all rail service – passenger and freight – is stopped through the area. We are waiting to hear more from the city of San Clemente, which is leading the engineering study of the hillside (in the city’s right of way),” Carpenter said.

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