THE long-anticipated Metrolink Arrow passenger service began operating in California on October 24, extending Metrolink’s San Bernardino Line by 14.4km with four new stations.

Trains on the route primarily run between a new station at the University of Redlands and Metrolink’s existing San Bernardino-Downtown station, which has connections to and from Metrolink’s San Bernardino and Inland Empire - Orange County lines. The other stations are San Bernardino-Tippecanoe, Redlands-Esri and Redlands-Downtown.

The Metrolink Arrow trains run on weekdays from 05.30 - 21.00 and at weekends from 07.30 - 22.00. Connections between Arrow trains and San Bernardino Line trains are available seven days a week at San Bernardino-Downtown station.

Three new two-car Flirt DMUs built by Stadler are used for Arrow services and are equipped with low-emission Tier 4 diesel engines for a quieter and more energy-efficient ride. Each train has capacity for 116 seated and 120 standing passengers, space for up to eight wheelchair passengers, USB chargers at most seats, storage hooks for up to 12 bicycles, and level boarding at the line’s station platforms.

In addition to the DMU commuter service, a single locomotive-hauled Metrolink Express train is running from Redlands - Downtown station to Los Angeles Union station each morning, and then from LA to Redlands in the evening.

The conclusion of San Bernardino County Transportation Authority’s (SBCTA) Redlands Passenger Rail Project, now known as Arrow, the new service has been more than a decade in the making. The new passenger line was authorised in 2015 with the aim of reconnecting San Bernardino with Redlands while also having the ability to connect commuters to Los Angeles.

Following works to move sewer and water pipes which began in 2018, and a groundbreaking ceremony held in July 2019, the two-year project included relaying track , rebuilding five bridges and installing 24 level crossings. While designed mostly as a single-track line, there are 3.2km of double track between San Bernardino-Tippecanoe and Redlands-Esri.

The Flirt DMUs for SBCTA were built at Stadler’s plant in Salt Lake City, Utah, and in 2019 the organisations signed a contract for the supply of what will be the first hydrogen-powered train to run in the United States, the Flirt H2. Recently displayed at the InnoTrans trade fair in Berlin, the hydrogen train will be introduced on San Bernardino’s Arrow services in 2024.