Merced station (California High-Speed Rail)

Coordinates: 37°17′54″N 120°28′47″W / 37.298422°N 120.479747°W / 37.298422; -120.479747
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General information
LocationMartin Luther King, Jr. Way or
15th Street between O & R Streets
Merced, California
Coordinates37°17′54″N 120°28′47″W / 37.298422°N 120.479747°W / 37.298422; -120.479747
Owned byCalifornia High-Speed Rail Authority
Line(s)Union Pacific Fresno Subdivision,
California High-Speed Rail
Opening2030 (ACE)
c. 2029 (Amtrak)
2029 (CAHSR)
Future services
Preceding station Altamont Corridor Express Following station
toward San Jose
San Jose – Merced Terminus
Livingston Valley Rail
Preceding station California High-Speed Rail Following station
Terminus Phase I Madera
towards Anaheim
Terminus Phase I Gilroy
Preceding station Amtrak Following station
Turlock–Denair San Joaquins Terminus

Merced station is a proposed California High-Speed Rail station in Merced, California, located in Downtown Merced. The environmentally approved site is on Martin Luther King Jr. Way near the interchange with Route 99/59, placing it about 7 blocks south from the existing Merced Amtrak station. The station was initially intended to be the northern terminus of the system's Initial Construction Segment. As of April 2022 the California High-Speed Rail Authority is studying an alternative location proposed by the City of Merced and other stakeholders, 8 blocks to the west-northwest along 15th Street, between O Street and R Street. The high-speed rail line will run on the south side of the Union Pacific Railroad right-of-way at these locations.[1]

The station is north of the planned Chowchilla Wye, where the high-speed rail splits into two branches. Merced is on the eastern branch, which at the conclusion of Phase II will continue northwards to Sacramento.[2]


Southern Pacific[edit]

A San Joaquins train (detoured from its usual route) passing the former Southern Pacific station in 1976

The first railroad through Merced was the Central Pacific Railroad, a subsidiary of the Southern Pacific Railroad (SP), which reached the village on January 15, 1872.[3] Charles Henry Huffman, who was the SP's agent for land acquisition, founded Merced and moved there when the railroad opened.[4] The original village was along Bear Creek, but the town center quickly became the SP station.[4] A branch to Oakdale (later extended to Stockton) was completed in 1891.[3] The SP later built a new station off 16th Street at N Street.[4]

The San Francisco and San Joaquin Valley Railroad opened through Merced in 1896, with a station at 24th Street.[4] The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway (AT&SF) – the SP's main rival – purchased the line in 1899, providing it a parallel competing mainline through the Central Valley.[4]

Passenger service on both branch lines ended in the 1940s. Merced remained an important stop on the two mainlines, serving named trains including the San Francisco Chief and Golden Gate on the AT&SF, and the San Joaquin Daylight and Sacramento Daylight on the SP. On May 1, 1971, Amtrak took over intercity passenger service in the United States from the private railroads. Amtrak chose to run its San Francisco–Los Angeles service over the Coast Line rather than the Central Valley, and passenger service to Merced ended.

Amtrak began the Oakland–Bakersfield San Joaquin on March 5, 1974.[5] The San Joaquin was controversially routed over the AT&SF rather than the SP (which ran through more major cities); the AT&SF station in Merced was used by Amtrak.[6] The SP station was renovated in the 1990s to serve as the city bus terminal.[4]

High-speed rail[edit]

The California High-Speed Rail Authority's February 2016 draft business plan said that the Merced station would not begin service at the same time as the initial San Jose to Bakersfield route in 2025, but would likely open in 2029 instead.[7] The Merced City Council vigorously opposed the delay in the station opening, noting that Merced would be a prime area for commuters seeking to use high-speed rail to access jobs in Silicon Valley.[8] In response, the April 2016 revisions to the business plan included Merced in the initial construction segment, initially as a single-track spur connecting only to the westbound track to the Bay Area, with buildout of the full Chowchilla Wye happening later.[9][10]

The station was chosen as the terminus of the Altamont Corridor Express commuter rail extension into Stanislaus and Merced Counties;[11] the siting of ACE platforms will be dependent on the HSR location selection and may also change accordingly. The line is planned to open to the station in 2030.[12][13]

Additionally, the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority has plans to run San Joaquins trains to the station as a feeder line into the Merced to Bakersfield high speed segment. A new rail link connecting the BNSF Stockton Subdivision on the north of Merced to the high speed rail station will facilitate the transfer.[14]


  1. ^ "Merced". California High-Speed Rail Authority. Retrieved January 23, 2023.
  2. ^ "Project Sections". California High-Speed Rail Authority. Retrieved October 28, 2015.
  3. ^ a b Gudde, Erwin S. (2010). California Place Names: The Origin and Etymology of Current Geographical Names. University of California Press. pp. 235, 247. ISBN 9780520266193 – via Google Books.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Merced, CA (MCD)". Great American Stations. Amtrak.
  5. ^ "Press release announcing the launch of the San Joaquin, 1974". Amtrak. March 5, 1974.
  6. ^ Cook, Gale (March 10, 1974). "San Joaquin Valley Amtrak route draws some tart comments". Modesto Bee. Archived from the original on January 24, 2013.
  7. ^ Miller, Thaddeus (February 23, 2016). "High-speed rail changes leave Merced leaders wondering". Merced Sun-Star. Retrieved February 24, 2016.
  8. ^ Miller, Thaddeus (April 6, 2016). "Merced drafts letter denouncing new HSR plans". Merced Sun-Star. Retrieved April 12, 2016.
  9. ^ Associated Press (April 21, 2016). "California High-Speed Rail Officials Tinker With Plans". Capital Public Radio. Retrieved April 23, 2016.
  10. ^ Cruickshank, Robert (April 21, 2016). "CHSRA Proposes Revisions to 2016 Business Plan". California High Speed Rail Blog. Archived from the original on April 25, 2016. Retrieved April 24, 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  11. ^ "Final Environmental Impact Report: Appendix C-23 - Prelim Engineering Plans" (PDF). SJRRC. Retrieved June 11, 2019.
  12. ^ Holland, John (December 4, 2021). "Board advances ACE service to Turlock and Merced County. When will first train run?". Modesto Bee. Retrieved December 9, 2021.
  13. ^ Luczak, Marybeth (December 6, 2021). "ACE Ceres-Merced Extension Project Advances". Railway Age. Retrieved December 9, 2021.
  14. ^ "2020 Business Plan" (PDF). SJJPA. Retrieved May 16, 2020.

External links[edit]