132 years of rail history

by Ellen Bell

Irvine Station serves over 1 million commuters annually, making it the county’s most popular train station. It also represents 132 years of continual rail service on the Irvine Ranch.

In 1887, the Irvine family allowed the Santa Fe Railroad to cross their ranchland in exchange for “a first class regular station for freight and passengers” built within six months.

A small town sprung up around the depot, adding a granary in 1895, a hotel in 1913, and a blacksmith shop in 1916. These structures have been rehabilitated and painstakingly maintained in Old Town Irvine.

For decades, the rail line was vital for shipping Irvine Ranch lima beans and Valencia oranges to market, establishing the ranch as one of America’s most important agricultural centers.

In 1990, the city opened Irvine Station at 15215 Barranca Parkway, in the Spectrum District, offering Amtrak, Metrolink, bus, shuttle and other commuting services.

It plays a vital role in the city’s Master Plan for transportation, which provides a variety of choices – from trains to buses to shuttles to bikes to walking – connecting residents to work, shopping, entertainment and open space.

Many of the city’s biggest employers chose Irvine due to Irvine Station, a big benefit for employees.

From Irvine Station, you can ride to San Juan Capistrano in 15 minutes – or all the way to Seattle in 31 hours.