The historic but troubled Angels Flight railway in DTLA will reopen to the public by Labor Day, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Wednesday.
The 116-year-old, 298-foot funicular that descends from Bunker Hill to the Historic Core – touted as the world’s shortest railway – was shut down after a derailment in September 2013. That followed a nine-year shutdown after a railcar broke loose in 2001, raced down the hill and collided with a railcar at the bottom, killing one passenger and injuring seven.
Since the 2013 mishap, the nonprofit Angels Flight Railway Foundation, that manages the railway, led a complete overhaul of the rail system, installing new mechanical and electrical systems designed to prevent derailments of runaway railcars. The new system also had to pass muster with the California Public Utilities Commission, which oversees rail safety.
“Angels Flight is a cultural gem that tells an unforgettable story about the history of Los Angeles,” Garcetti said in a statement. “Today, we celebrate the rebirth of this iconic attraction - and once the modernization is complete, we will welcome millions of visitors from around the world to experience it with us.”
To make the reopening possible, the Angels Flight Railway Foundation and ACS Group, a Madrid, Spain-based engineering and construction firm, finalized an agreement last week to recondition, operate and maintain the funicular for the next 30 years, the statement from Garcetti’s office said. Sener Engineering, of Gexto, Spain and Dragados USA of New York are also on the project team.
In addition to its tourist draw, the funicular will serve as an important transit connection between the Pershing Square Metro station and the top of Bunker Hill - an area that includes Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Broad Contemporary Art Museum, MOCA, the Los Angeles Music Center, among other cultural institutions. As part of the agreement, Metro tap card holders will receive a 50 percent fare discount for the next three years.
“It is truly a historic day for one of Los Angeles’ most recognized treasures,” Councilman José Huizar, who represents downtown, said in a statement. “It is our hope that this public-private partnership ensures the new Angels Flight will be safe, economically sustainable and - once again - a key Los Angeles cultural centerpiece for years to come.”
Public policy and energy reporter Howard Fine can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @howardafine.