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Indio City Councilman Waymond Fermon

Train between the coachella valley and los angeles could happen in the next decade

January 3, 2023

Like many other cities in the West, Indio started as a railroad town. Southern Pacific began operating trains to Indio in 1876, connecting the Coachella Valley to Los Angeles and beyond and sparking growth and development in the city. 

Passenger trains stopped in Indio for over a century, until Amtrak halted service to the desert station in the late 1990s. In more recent years, passing freight trains have entertained customers at El Mexicali Cafe, a long-standing institution near the tracks on Indio Boulevard. 

In the no-longer-so-distant future, diners at El Mexicali Cafe might enjoy their meals before heading up Indio Boulevard to the planned Indio Transportation Hub, centered around a new Indio train station that will provide two daily round-trips to Los Angeles, with stops along the way in mid-valley, Palm Springs, the San Gorgonio Pass area, Redlands/Loma Linda, Riverside and Fullerton. An eastern terminus is also planned for Coachella. 

The long-discussed dream of connecting the Coachella Valley to Los Angeles via daily rail service now feels closer than ever, with billions in federal funding on the table for passenger rail and a renewed sense of urgency around improving public transportation as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

“This is as close as we have ever been. This first started as an idea in 1990, and the ideas have come and gone, but now we have real traction. So this is no longer just an idea,” said Aaron Hake, deputy executive director at the Riverside County Transportation Commission. 

The commission is waiting to hear back on a $20 million grant request under the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements Program that would round out the total of $60 million the agency needs to move forward on a Tier 2 environmental impact report. 

Future location of a passenger rail service & train station