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After a five-decade hiatus, passenger rail service will return to Los Angeles’  traffic-choked Westside in May.

The 6.6-mile, $1.5-billion extension of the Expo Line to Santa Monica will begin carrying passengers on May 20, Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials said Thursday.

The Expo Line currently stops in Culver City. The extension to Santa Monica will mark the first passenger rail service between downtown Los Angeles and the Westside since the demise of the Pacific Electric streetcar network in the 1950s.

The light-rail line, primarily built on an abandoned Southern Pacific right-of-way, curves through Palms, Sawtelle and West Los Angeles, a route roughly parallel to the 10 Freeway. Its terminus, at Fourth Street and Colorado Avenue in Santa Monica, is a block from the Third Street Promenade and a half-mile from the ocean.

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