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I see on Google Maps a train track between the United States and Mexico via San Ysidro:

enter image description here

Does any passenger train go between the United States and Mexico via San Ysidro?

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    Have you tried the Amtrak site and the site of the man in seat 61? Or a Mexican rail site? I do not remember having heard or seen cross border passenger rail travel between US and Mexico, can not look it up now.
    – Willeke
    Nov 3 '21 at 9:14
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    Unlikely, except for a small handful of tourist trains, there is no passenger rail service in Mexico at all
    – Hilmar
    Nov 3 '21 at 9:27
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    This is a good question if you are more used to the northern border. Passenger trains between Montreal and New York City and between Vancouver and Seattle are plentiful. Nov 3 '21 at 14:11
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    @RobertColumbia there are only a handful of trains between the US and Canada,. I would not call that "plenfitful". Nov 3 '21 at 15:49
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    I wonder if there has ever been scheduled passenger transportation across the US-Mexico border.
    – gerrit
    Nov 4 '21 at 8:15
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No; with the exception of the odd tourist line (ie heritage railway), there is no regularly scheduled passenger rail service in Mexico outside metro, light rail, and commuter railways in the Mexico City area. There is certainly no cross-border passenger train.

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    For historical context, FNM (the state railroad) suspended all passenger operations in 1997; and despite some initiatives, there hasn't been any significant intercity passenger rail service since. Nov 3 '21 at 12:32
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    Keep in mind that passenger rail in the US is mostly non-profitable but rather is sustained by government subsidies. You can take a train from NYC to Chicago a a rate competitive to air travel because the government thinks you should be able to. Nov 3 '21 at 14:15
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    @RobertColumbia All modes of transportation are subsidised, as are fossil fuels in general. By far the largest direct government spending is, of course, on roads. For some reason rail is sometimes singled out specifically.
    – gerrit
    Nov 4 '21 at 8:13
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    @gerrit Rail is strategic. IIRC a standard rail freight car can be up to 200 tons. A special freight car can handle heavier. Not all loads can be split between 4+ road trucks (special heavy load trucks exist but generally disrupt normal traffic). Also the energy cost of moving freight by rail is much lower than by road. Also railways can be powered by electricity. But none are much relevant to passenger rail.
    – nigel222
    Nov 4 '21 at 10:18
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    @nigel222 Yes, I know the advantages of rail. There's an excellent answer on Economics.SE on the relative lack of railway electrification in North America. Railway electrification is relevant to passenger rail, though; the faster acceleration is important, in particular for commuter rail. Energy cost (and of course electrification) matters for carbon impact too.
    – gerrit
    Nov 4 '21 at 10:48
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These appear to be the tracks of the Baja California Railroad. According to Wikipedia, it offers freight service only; there is no indication of passenger facilities of any kind. Moreover, it only runs as far as Tecate, where it connects back to a railroad on the US side. It does not connect to any other railroad in Mexico.

The San Diego Trolley serves San Ysidro and you can walk across the border from its terminus. The trolley can connect you to the US rail network via Santa Fe Depot, from which there is Amtrak service to Los Angeles and onward connections. But I do not think there is any passenger rail service to actually take you into Mexico.

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    The westernmost connection between the larger US and Mexican rail networks appears to be at Calexico/Mexicali, connecting rails owned by Ferromex and (I think) Union Pacific. But as noted in the other answers, there is no passenger service there otherwise. Nov 3 '21 at 16:21
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Tijuana is isolated from the rest of the Mexican rail system.

That railroad actually loops back into the United States to make the very difficult crossing of the Peninsular Ranges of mountains. (which is why there isn't a crossing on the Mexican side). It was built by US interests to serve San Diego.

enter image description here

The Mexicans handle freight on their side, but it all comes via the Los Angeles area. Activity on the east end has been minimal and is mostly a heritage railroad operation.

The freight track from San Diego to San Ysidro is shared by the San Diego Trolley, which will take you directly to the border crossing.

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    I went through the entire line on Google Maps. Some portions on US eastern side and in Mexico are no longer passable due to rock slides. Interesting observation: Mexican part of the route looks nothing like on the map. It has a lot of twists as well.
    – Alex
    Nov 4 '21 at 14:59
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    I researched this line a while ago. In particular, on what was originally the San Diego & Arizona Railroad, there is a tunnel #3 near the Mexican town of Tecate, just before the tracks cross the US-Mexican border in tunnel #4. This tunnel burned and partially collapsed, then was daylighted, only for the resulting trench to be filled in by subsequent rock slides.
    – njuffa
    Nov 4 '21 at 23:29
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    Google view of daylighted tunnel #3 filled by rock slides: google.com/maps/@32.5773964,-116.5383453,3a,75y,28.66h,78.32t/…
    – njuffa
    Nov 4 '21 at 23:30
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    Supposedly BJRR is leasing the "Desert Line" section from Tecate east to Plaster City and has a plan to rehabilitate it, but as of 2019 it hadn't gone much of anywhere: sandiegouniontribune.com/news/environment/… Nov 5 '21 at 0:14
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    @NateEldredge That rockslide is an easy fix, but there are problems on the US side too. And a revolving door of optimistic freight operators who sign a freight contract and don't deliver. Reminds me a lot of the NWP, tough railroad with too little traffic to support it. Nov 5 '21 at 0:49
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No passenger trains towards the US via San Ysidro according to https://www.bts.gov/browse-statistical-products-and-data/border-crossing-data/border-crossingentry-data, which provides some detailed statistics on border crossing to the United States:

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) Border Crossing Data provide summary statistics for inbound crossings at the U.S.-Canada and the U.S.-Mexico border at the port level. Data are available for trucks, trains, containers, buses, personal vehicles, passengers, and pedestrians. Border crossing data are collected at ports of entry by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The data reflect the number of vehicles, containers, passengers or pedestrians entering the United States. CBP does not collect comparable data on outbound crossings

Looking at their database, one can select trai passenger and see how many individuals entered the US every year by train for each port of entry in the US since 1996:

enter image description here

It's 0 individual entering the US by train yearly via San Ysidro. It's more than 0 for a few other ports of entry:

enter image description here

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    Are those actual train passengers or rather freight train drivers? Or maybe there exist novelty/tourist trains that cross the border occasionally? The relatively high number at El Paso and Nogales in the pandemic year 2020 is quite surprising. Hasn't the border been essentially closed for non-essential travel for most of 2020?
    – gerrit
    Nov 4 '21 at 9:41
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    This page says there were 737 northbound train crossings at Nogales in 2019, and 1379 in El Paso. Not sure how to reconcile those numbers with the "passenger" border crossings (how do they count train crew?).
    – gerrit
    Nov 4 '21 at 9:46
  • @gerrit I had the same issue :) I'll ask the experts. I was also wondering whether some train crosses without having human cross at the same time. Nov 4 '21 at 9:49
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    Something is funny with that data, because there definitely isn't any passenger rail service via Otay Mesa either. As far as I can see, there aren't even any tracks in that vicinity. Nov 4 '21 at 13:23

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