This trip was to ride the Coast Starlight detour over the UP (ex-SP) San Joaquin Valley line, which we've not ridden on before, and over the Tehachapi line, past our house.
We left home just before 2 pm, and with our usual stop in Acton arrived at the Metro Plaza Hotel across from LA Union Station at 4:15 pm. We ate dinner at the plaza.
After the continental breakfast, we parked the car at the station, and checked in for our bus ride to Bakersfield, over the Grapevine. The 10:45 am bus got us to Bakersfield at 12:45 pm, to find that since train 702 from Sacramento hadn't arrived yet (due to a disabled train between Sacramento and Lodi), our train 715 to Stockton (and Oakland) would be delayed. Train 702 eventually arrives at 1:25 pm, and then must be cleaned before we can depart.
Coach-Baggage 8204 Drakes Bay
Coach 8016 San Luis Ray River
Cafe 8807 Imperial Valley
Coach 8002 San Joaquin River
Cab Car 8313 Mount Lassen
Train 715, 8-23-2008
|Bakersfield||1:20 pm||1:48 pm|
|Stockton||5:33 pm||5:55-58 pm|
The BNSF San Joaquin Valley line route description
On the way north, we meet ten BNSF freights of various kinds and three southbound Amtrak trains. At Stockton, where we see an arriving ACE train that has just cleared the flat crossing towards the former SP station, we leave the San Joaquin and board the bus for Sacramento (and Northern California), which departs as darkness falls and gets us to Sacramento about 6:50 pm. We walk over to the Holiday Inn, check in and drop the bags in our room, walk back to what had been a Chinese Restaurant in 1999, but is now an Indian restaurant, have dinner, return to the hotel, check up on the progress of Train 11, and go to bed.
We get up at 5:30 am, check up on Train 11 again, sigh, and after getting dressed and packing, walk over to the station, where we find a group of rare mileage collectors, including Carol and Thom Sulanke, and some others we can't name. We later learn that Alan Miller is riding this train, but only after the fact. At about 6:25 am, we all walk out to the platform, and await the train's arrival, which is about 6:35 am (when it should be departing). Chris and I, and one other of the group, are in the sleepers, while the others ride the rear coach. More than a dozen people leave the sleeper (going not only to Sacramento and the normal connecting trains, but also everywhere down the coast short of Los Angeles; most of these people board the next Capitol Corridor service for the bay area). When they're all off, we board.
Sleeper 32093 Missouri
Pacific Parlor 39970
Train 11, 8-23-2008
|Sacramento||6:35 am||6:35-59 am|
|Bakersfield||12:30 pm||12:03-37 pm|
|Los Angeles||6:15 pm||5:15 pm|
The SP line to Los Angeles via the San Joaquin Valley route description
The run, via Elvas and the former SP to Stockton, is steady, with no delays for other trains. Meeting five northbound UP freights along the way, we stop at the ex-SP Fresno Yard for a new pilot crew, and at Bakersfield (just short of Baker Street grade crossing) to wait for our new Amtrak crew to arrive, as well as a new pilot crew. We meet Train 14 at Walong, going around the loop itself, and again have no delays waiting for other trains, even though we meet six opposing freights (four BNSF, two UP) crossing the pass. We pass by our house just south of Cable Crossover, negotiate a 10 mph slow order next to the Lancaster Metrolink station, and at Palmdale Junction, swap over onto the Metrolink line through Soledad Canyon. We stop briefly for a northbound Metrolink at Newhall, and again for another at Roxford, passing a third on the double track further south, and are into LA Union Station an hour ahead of the 6:15 pm advertised for the detour (doubtless to avoid suggestions of a connection to train 4).
We get the car and return to the Metro Plaza Hotel. Later, we walk to Chinatown for dinner at the Plum Tree Inn, our usual Chinese Restaurant.
We arise at 7am, have the continental breakfast, and are on our way home by 7:45 am. With the usual stop at Acton, we're in Tehachapi by 9:45 am, in time to go to the doctor's office for the free flu shots. We then get the mail and are home by 10:15 am.