The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) in the US has announced that the Gold Line Foothill Extension Project will officially open for public on 5 March 2016.

Funded by the 2008 Measure R countywide sales tax, the $1bn project will extend the Metro Gold Line 12 miles east to Azusa, California, with new stations in Arcadia, Monrovia, Duarte, Irwindale, downtown Azusa, and near the campuses of Azusa Public University (APU) and Citrus College.

The Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority was responsible for the rail extension, which took about five years to build, with major construction completed in September.

"Its opening is a significant milestone: Metro is delivering on its promise to lead a transit revolution."

Metro Board chair and LA County supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said: "The opening of the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension will bring Metro Rail to new San Gabriel Valley communities, and provide a relief valve for the increasingly congested 210 freeway.

"Its opening is a significant milestone: Metro is delivering on its promise to lead a transit revolution. Work is well underway to add four additional rail lines and a total of 32 new miles of service to LA County’s rail system in the coming years."

The extended line is expected to carry 13,600 riders a day, with trains operating every 12min during peak hours.

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Metro CEO Phillip Washington said: "Our testing and training process before we open any rail line is a big part of making safety Metro’s number one priority.

"But once the Gold Line Extension opens to the public in March, it will be yet another example of our regional investment in transforming transportation across this region."

Over the next several months, Metro will carry out rigorous pre-revenue operations testing to ensure the line is safe and ready for service.

Metro will test the line, training operators, supervisors and maintenance personnel as well as conduct extensive community outreach to help keep pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists safe around passing trains.

Apart from the new Kinkisharyo P3010 train cars, the Metro will test 23 miles of main train track.

The new trains, which will have a capacity of 68 passengers, are highly advanced, stainless-steel vehicles specifically designed to support Metro’s complex system expansion needs.