PE’s El Segundo and Santa Monica Air Line: Two of a Kind

By Ralph Cantos

This very rare photo taken in 1914 shows Pacific Electric car no. 214 southbound on the new El Segundo Line, just after leaving Watts.

Like the Santa Monica Air Line, passenger service on the El Segundo Line seemed to be an “afterthought” to the PE brass. The big money on both lines, was FREIGHT, and in the case of the El Segundo, lots of it. While the Air Line handled all manor of general freight, on the El Segundo Line, it was BLACK GOLD….OIL that kept the green money rolling into the PE revenue books and lots of that too.

Passenger revenues on both lines — that was another matter.

Passenger service to El Segundo was inaugurated when the line opened in August of 1914. And again like the Air Line, passengers were not packing the cars in sufficient numbers to make the line as important to the PE’s Passenger Department as other Southern District Lines, chief among them, of course, the Long Beach Line.

After just 15 years , PE pulled the plug on El Segundo passenger service; it was gone by the end of October 1930.

The El Segundo Line did not have the legions of loyal passengers like the Santa Monica Air Line did (all 75 of them), and so passenger service on the Air Line was whittled away until the final, one-car-a-day schedule went into effect in 1933 and lasted to the bitter end in October of 1953. Both Lines continued and thrived as freight lines for decades after the last passenger services made final runs on both lines.

Today, the Santa Monica Air Line has been reborn as the LACMTA Metro Rail-Expo Line. And someday, thanks in part to the passage of Measure M , passengers wishing to travel from Los Angeles and points in-between to El Segundo by rail, might again do so via an extended Metro Green line.

Only time will tell.

Ralph Cantos Collection

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Showing 3 comments
  • Gerald Hunter

    Thank you Mr. C., Never knew the El Segundo line was ever double tracked.
    G. Hunter

  • Jim Baker

    Major correction:
    I have a friend, Howard Trelohr, who lives in Hawthorne and has done a lot of work on El Segundo and Hawthorne history.
    The photo is actually at what is now Hawthorne Blvd. and Broadway.
    The car is at the north end of the El Nido – Hawthorne Shuttle.
    Notice the Narrow Gauge track on the right with 8 foot ties installed for conversion to Standard Gauge in the immediate future.

    • Ralph Cantos

      Very sorry for wrong location, back of old photo just said El Segundo Line

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