DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES – The long-closed Angels Flight railway will be open to the public on April 15, John Welborne, president of the Angels Flight Railway Foundation, told Los Angeles Downtown News this afternoon. His comments came after the California Public Utilities Commission sent a letter saying the project had cleared its final safety tests.
The railway has been closed more than nine years, since a fatal accident on Feb. 1, 2001. Multiple previously announced opening dates have been missed.
Welborne said that April 15 date is not an “opening date,” with a ribbon cutting ceremony, but Downtowners will once again be able to ride the funicular for a quarter that day.
On Thursday, the CPUC sent a letter saying they have no other major safety concerns “with regard to the safety and security design, construction, and operation of the Angles Flight Railway.”
The letter, addressed to Welborne and acquired by Downtown News, said that CPUC staff is now authorizing Angels Flight to “resume revenue service operations.”
“We’re delighted the PUC has acted and we’ll have an announcement of the opening date,” said Welborne, who had not seen the letter before being contacted by Downtown News. “My board doesn’t even know the PUC has acted. We’re prepared to open, we’ve been waiting for the PUC approval.”
In a Feb. 11 email to Downtown News, CPUC officials said Angels Flight had to complete one remaining specific safety measure before it could open. That was the installation of end gates on the two cars, Olivet and Sinai.
Welborne said that test was completed on February 22.
Angels Flight was originally opened in 1901 by Colonel J.W. Eddy to ferry passengers between the then residential Bunker Hill district and the commercial businesses below. It was closed and dismantled in 1969 when Bunker Hill underwent redevelopment. It reopened in 1996 and charged riders 25 cents to travel up and down the hill.
The 2001 closure was caused by a problem with the gear and drive system. That caused one car to roll down the track and smash into the other, killing 83-year-old Leon Praport and injuring seven others. Delays in reopening were first blamed on legal settlements with victims of the accident; those were resolved in 2006.
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