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Trip Report

Southern California on Amtrak

July 13-16, 2002


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Coast Starlight Train Number 11 Martinez CA-Los Angeles CA

Saturday, July 13, 2002

I planned this trip for sometime now. It will be the first trip I have taken on a long haul train using coach. My trip plan includes the following. Take the Coast Starlight train #11 southbound from Martinez Ca to Los Angeles CA. I will then drive to Victorville CA to view the Southern Calif. Logistics Airport where major US airlines store jets when they cannot afford to operate them anymore. I will then take Train #3 Southwest Chief from Victorville to Los Angeles. I will then take the Pacific Surfliner from Los Angeles to San Diego. My final trip will be from Los Angeles to Emeryville, CA on the northbound Coast Starlight #14.

Saturday July 13 0630

I got up and called the 800 phone number for Amtrak. Train # 11 was behind schedule by about 45 minutes. I will leave my house anyway just to make sure I make it on time.

0830- I arrived at the Martinez Amtrak station. There are only about 8 people waiting for the Coast Starlight here. I am surprised by that. I have been through here many times before and noticed a lot of people use this station to board the Coast Starlight. I grabbed a good cup of Java as this station has a really nice coffee shop where you can grab snacks and coffee. I have also noticed a lot of freight trains passing through. This is a Saturday I can't believe all the traffic coming this way.

0855- Train #11 arrives at Martinez. Engine #117,119 at about 0900 we departed for Emeryville.

0935-Arrived in Emeryville.

1000-Arrived into Oakland. I noticed that they really like moving single passengers around on this train. Its nice they do this for families but I think its odd when the train is not full to jam people into one coach. I have noticed walking through the train that there are a lot of seats available and one coach is almost empty. I will take note of this and see if they have a method to the madness. One thing is certain though. If you are alone you will more then likely be moved to accommodate couples.

CalTrain consists near San Jose Working in the fields near Salinas CA At Paso Robles

1615- Outside Paso Robles. You are in some hills here. There are also some tunnels you enter. I am surprised at how long some of the tunnels are here.

1620- We met up with the northbound train #14 at this time. The milepost detectors have been telling me our speed throughout the day has been slow.

1630- We are now at the horse shoe curve. It is really nice to see both ends of the train.

Horseshoe curve at Cuesta Grade San Luis Obispo station

1815- I had dinner already while we were passing into Vandenberg AFB. I didn't know they took the prime rib dinner off the menu. I was really hoping to have this for dinner. Why did they remove it from the dinner menu I wonder? Also no more turtle pie? Hmmm.

Pacific sunset At Santa Barbara Passing through Santa Barbara

2130- We arrived into Los Angeles. It was a little late but hey who cares. One thing I have noticed throughout the trip. They squeeze the singles into seats with others. If the train was full I could understand that. I have a problem with this policy today though. I have noticed throughout the train that two coaches have many vacant seats. This has been the case throughout the day. The other coaches are approaching capacity. I just can't understand why they will not allow people room. The coaches that are not full do have people seated in them. The destinations are not uniform so it makes no sense to crowd people together. I have also noticed people just move on their own anyway.


Aircraft at the Southern California Logistic Airport I made it to the Southern Calif. Logistic Airport. These planes are still operational but in storage. Swiss Air is now out of business but you will find an MD 11 aircraft here. This belongs to a leasing agent. Some of the planes here such as the United Airlines 747 model 400s are stored because the airlines cannot afford to operate them. I was told there was an increase in stored aircraft here since Sept. 11.

Victorville to Los Angeles Train # 3

Monday July 15th

I called Amtrak and found out that the Southwest Chief Train #3 was about 4 hours late. It was suppose to be into Victorville at 0418. It is now due in at 0745.

BNSF freight at Victorville Southwest Chief #3 at Victorville At Cajon Pass

0749- Train #3 arrived into Victorville. I was surprised to see that the train is pulled by 4 engines. I boarded and noticed a lot of people are on this train. In contrast to my trip on the Coast Starlight I was told to sit anywhere I wanted. What a drastic change in policy here. I don't mean to complain but they really need to clean the bathrooms here. It really stinks in these coaches. I am not the only one that noticed this. A few other people are complaining wow this is really nasty. I moved but at least two other coaches have this smell. I think I will spend most of my time in the lounge car.

The hills and desert are a wonderful morning backdrop. What a nice site. I notice they are doing a lot of track work out this way.

Many passengers are told that they will have to detrain in San Bernardino in order to catch the northbound Coast Starlight.

We arrived into Los Angeles at 1145. A bit late but hey, when you take the train you have to expect it is going to be late at times.

Coast Starlight Train Number 14 Los Angeles-Martinez CA

The Coast Starlight # 14 departed Los Angeles Union Station right on time. I looked at my watch and was surprised to see that we were on the money. A couple of things happened before we left though that I think are worth mentioning.

First, when I arrived at the station I discovered the Coast Starlight has it's own boarding area. This is for first class (sleeper) passengers or coach. It happens to be right where there is also boarding for the Pacific Surfliner. There is a little confusion here. I think they need to reevaluate this boarding area. I also found that you can bypass this and go directly to the platform. So it really makes no sense to check in there. Most passengers went around the line and went to the boarding platform.

Prior to the Starlight arriving I was on the platform. Track# 9 to be exact. An Amtrak employee yelled at me to stand behind the yellow line. I was nowhere near the line she was talking about. I was sitting on a concrete ramp away from the line. When I asked her if she was talking to me she stated, "Do you have a hearing impairment? Some of you passengers really get on my nerves!!" I was livid and two other passengers told me they were going to call Amtrak to complain. I don't get worked up about these things though. I work at a prison and comments there are handed out by the prisoners like candy to a kid. I pay no attention to rude people. She was very rude for sure.

I thought I would get to pick my seat once on the train. I couldn't have been more wrong. Once again we played musical chairs with the seats. Of course they wanted to seat couples and families together and singles to the wolves. Hey Amtrak what about a singles coach? I am really bugged by this due to the fact the train was even more empty then my trip down to LA. I didn't have a train buddy until we arrived into Santa Barbara. Then someone was assigned next to me. I didn't see her the whole trip though. She found another seat and only came back when it was near her stop which was San Jose. Thank you for letting me have the seats to myself. :)

El Paso de Robles station A Pacific Ocean view

We were on time pretty much the whole way. After Santa Barbara I discovered Dolphins putting on a wonderful show for us. We arrived into Emeryville where I got off about an hour late. This is about the normal time for #14 to arrive in.

Thanks for reading my article about my trip. Happy Railing!!!

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