San Joaquin Valley and Tehachapi Detour,
October 22-25, 2008

Don Winter

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.

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

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.

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

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.


P32                    2051
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
Wasco 1:47 2:19
Corcoran 2:23 2:55
Hanford 2:41 3:16-19
Fresno 3:30 3:50-52
Madera 3:41 4:14
Merced 4:22 4:45-52
Denair 4:44 5:15
Modesto 4:59 5:27-29
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.

Friday, October 24th, 2008

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.


P42                    40
P42                    204
Baggage            1714
"Dorm"            32072
Sleeper            32093    Missouri
Sleeper            32050
Sleeper            32042
Pacific Parlor    39970
Diner                38058
Lounge             33049
Coach               34046
Coach               34512
Coach                34055

Train 11, 8-23-2008



Sacramento 6:35 am 6:35-59 am
Stockton   8:00
Modesto   8:35
Merced   9:09
Madera   9:40
Fresno   10:01-07
Tulare   10:57
Bakersfield 12:30 pm 12:03-37 pm
Tehachapi   2:14
Mojave   2:44
Lancaster   3:11
Palmdale   3:22
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.

Saturday, October 25th, 2008

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.