$440 Million for Unused "Trash Train"

Updated: May 22, 2018

Since 1987, Los Angeles County sanitation districts have spent $440 million to buy land and establish a remote landfill in Imperial County, with plans for a “trash train” to haul trash to the desert site.

“Literally and metaphorically, no train has ever left the station,” the Riverside Press-Telegram reported December 30. “A reduction in municipal waste tonnage from increased recycling, combined with a plethora of nearby landfills with decades of remaining space, have made an empty remote landfill at the end of the line unnecessary, placing the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County’s expensive trash train project on hold indefinitely.”

The districts built a rail yard at the Imperial County site to offload rail cars onto giant dump trucks that would deposit trash into the landfill. Approximately 220 miles of track connect that facility with another, finished in 2016, in the City of Industry.

“The remote landfill, established in 2012, has never received an ounce of trash in five years. The two rail yards have never been used. Annual maintenance costs of about $600,000 for both ends of the waste-by-rail project — not included in the capital costs — are adding up quickly. … Altogether, the districts spent $1.5 million on maintenance of the … and rail yard in the past five years.”

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