Amtrak Pacific Surfliner
Fullerton, California, round trip to Santa Barbara
January 16, 2023
Photos by Carl Morrison, Carl@TrainWeb.com, and Matthew Morrison http://trainweb.org/carl/SantaBarbaraDonMatt2023/ (Any photo with a
colored border can be clicked for a larger formatted image;
click BACK in your browser to return to this report.)
My rail travel
buddy, Don Roe with Amtrak hat, deserved a train-riding birthday
present in 2023, so we went to Santa Barbara for lunch.
Our ticket for 2 of us above. All the Conductor needs to scan is
that code/box in the upper left corner on a paper printout or smart
the time that we made the reservations, the only return, direct
Surfliner was 794 leaving Santa Barbara at 6:50 pm (after dark) and a 9:46
arrival back in Fullerton. However, some quick iPhone work by
Matt found an earlier return direct train that left about 1:20 and got
us back to LA about sunset.
and I qualified for the Senior Discount (10% Senior discount which is
applicable to travelers aged 60 and over), but there are also discounts
through Santa Barbara Carfree (link below)
Make Your SoCal Trip Extra Special. Travel on the Pacific Surfliner™ to Santa Barbara County
along tracks that parallel the Pacific Coast, taking in iconic scenery,
from sparkling beaches and coastal bluffs to lush farmland and rolling
hills. Santa Barbara is served by two Amtrak train routes, the Pacific
Surfliner™ (San Diego to San Luis Obispo) and the Coast Starlight™ (Los
Angeles to Seattle). The Santa Barbara Amtrak station is conveniently
located in downtown Santa Barbara just two blocks from the beach,
Stearns wharf and many attractions. Visit the popular Funk Zone and
Urban Wine Trail beginning right across the street from the station.
Many hotels, shops and restaurants are located within a few blocks walk
from the station. Pacific Surfliner™
351 miles and serving 27 stations, the Pacific Surfliner offers four
round-trip trains daily to Santa Barbara route/schedules. Santa Barbara
county train stations include Lompoc-Surf,Guadalupe, Goleta, Santa
Barbara, and Carpinteria. Connecting Thruway bus service is offered
from the train station to the UCSB Campus, Solvang-Santa Ynez Valley,
Buellton and Santa Maria. Hotels may offer complimentary pick-up
and drop-off service, please ask when making hotel reservations.
amenities on the Pacific Surfliner include complimentary Wi-Fi, power
outlets, spacious, reclining seats and overhead luggage/surfboard
racks. Visit the Sea View Cafe featuring fresh salads and sandwiches,
snacks, local craft beer, cocktails, and wine or simply settle into
your seat to unwind and enjoy the views.
Save 20% on Amtrak™ Pacific Surfliner™
Save 20% on the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner™ to and from all nine Santa Barbara County stations!
Save 20% on the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner™ (plus associated thruway
buses, except not valid on the 7000-8999 thruway series).
Good for travel to or from the following Santa Barbara County Stations:
Carpinteria, Santa Barbara, University of California Santa Barbara,
Goleta, Guadalupe, Lompoc-Surf, Solvang, Santa Maria and Buellton.
Valid for purchase through November 16, 2021 and December 22, 2023 and
for travel between November 19, 2021 and December 25, 2023
Tickets must be purchased three days in advance after registering and
via the special link provided on this website
Not valid for travel on the Coast Starlight and certain holiday periods
(click for blackout dates) and fares are subject to availability Up to one (1) child age (2-12) may accompany each adult at half the regular full adult rail fare Click here for full offer terms and conditions
Our local Amtrak Station is Fullerton, California, with the Santa Fe
Express Cafe, right above.
adventure started with an Amtrak Pacific Surfliner departure at 8:18
a.m. which automatically included breakfast and coffee at the Santa Fe Express Cafe
where we always see proprietors Jose and Anna cooking and serving with
a smile, and a "Have a good trip."
We had experienced excessive rain, for California, the previous
month or so, but this morning was predicted to be the end of it.
learned from the ticket agent in the Amtrak Station that the Pacific
Surfliner No. 765 would be arriving at 8:18 or so on Track No. 3 so we
proceeded across the pedestrian bridge, "an excellent place to watch
The rain had stopped
and the Fullerton Station with the Santa Fe Express Cafe on the right
still looked inviting.
The Atchison, Topeka and Santa
Fe Railway opened its first Fullerton station in 1888.
The station has two historic
depots on site: one built in 1923 by the Union Pacific Railroad, (Now
Old Spaghetti Factory-white building with tile room on left above.) and the other built in 1930 by the
Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway (Above). Both depots are on the National Register
of Historic Places.
The 1930 Santa Fe depot serves
as an Amtrak ticket office and passenger waiting area and has a cafe.
It features Spanish Colonial Revival style architecture, as evidenced
by the stuccoed walls, red tile roof, and decorative wrought ironwork.
The Union Pacific Railroad was
the third railway to lay tracks through Fullerton and to build a depot.
This helped firmly establish Fullerton as the regional rail center for
northern Orange County. The 1923 Mission Revival style building was
designed by John and Donald Parkinson. Fullerton's redevelopment agency
moved the station next to the Santa Fe depot in 1980 to preserve it]
Now it is occupied by an Old Spaghetti Factory restaurant.
Pacific Electric constructed an
interurban railway to Fullerton in 1917, located just north of the
Santa Fe station and providing a transfer point to their system.
In September 1983, the Orange
County Transit District (now the Orange County Transportation
Authority) opened the Fullerton Transportation Center bus depot which
is located across the street from the station which is served by OCTA
routes 26, 43, 47, 143, 213 and 543.
This station became one of the
original 9 stations on the Metrolink Orange County Line when it opened
on March 28, 1994 and also one of the original 7 stations when the 91
Line (now the 91/Perris Valley Line) opened on May 6, 2002.
In the late 1990s, the Fullerton
Railway Plaza Association (FRPA) began fundraising and lobbying for the
creation of an interactive railroad attraction or museum at the site,
while continuing preservation efforts. Starting in 1999 the Amtrak
station and the FRPA were hosts for the annual "Fullerton Railroad
Days" event at the Santa Fe depot, an event that attracted between
30,000 and 40,000 participants. Due to the city not
supporting the FRPA museum, Railroad Days was not held
in 2009, and FRPA looked elsewhere, choosing to hold its 2010 event in
neighboring Brea. The organization subsequently changed its name to the
Southern California Railway Plaza Association (SCRPA). However,
Railroad Days for 2020 was canceled in response to the COVID-19
The station is served by the
Metrolink 91 Line and Orange County Line commuter rail services, plus
Amtrak intercity Pacific Surfliner and long-distance Southwest Chief
services however, all Southwest Chief trains going to Los Angeles stops
only to discharge passengers while trains going to Chicago stops only
to pick up passengers.
The BNSF San Bernardino
Subdivision has three tracks through the station. Westbound passenger
trains use the north track and its side platform; eastbound trains use
the south track and side platform. The center track is for freight use
only. An additional siding track with a side platform south of the
mainline tracks is used for short turn trains that run between
Fullerton and Laguna Niguel or Oceanside.
Our Surfliner No. 765 arrived at 8:39 a.m. in push mode. At LA, a
stub in station, it would reverse and be in pull mode north to Santa
On the upper level of some Superliner coaches, in the
center of the car are 4 facing seats with a table reserved for groups
of 3 or more. We walked through and found a coach with such
seating (above). Don wanted to be on the engineer's left side so
he could see the Amtrak yard before we arrived at the station.
Since the train reversed in the LA Station, we moved to the opposite
side on the way to Santa Barbara to be on the ocean side.
From the flyover we
could see the LA River bank to bank with runoff water from weeks of
recent rain when usually the bottom of the concrete channel can be seen
with only a small center lower channel of water. Earlier rain for
the day had cleared and the clouds were clearing.
We passed the
Amtrak turntable as seen from the flyover with the restored Santa Fe
3751 under tarps on the right.
a Genesis locomotive and long-distance coaches and a Superliner Siemens
We went under the 6th Street Viaduct over the LA River that also
crosses over the railroad tracks and yards.
More than a bridge: Michael Maltzan’s 6th Street Viaduct addresses
mistakes of L.A.'s past
design for the 6th Street Viaduct replaces a 1932-era design by city
engineer Merrill Butler that had succumbed to structural problems. That
bridge — a beloved lowriding thoroughfare and international cinematic
icon — consisted of a flat deck that traveled over an industrial
spaghetti of railways, freeways and the channelized Los Angeles River.
Its most notable flourish was a pair of steel arches that marked the
point at which the bridge traveled over the water.
Maltzan’s design tips its hat to Butler — while also creating something
daringly new. Spanning 3,500 feet from end to end are 10 pairs of
arches whose forms echo Butler’s design, with the tallest arches
framing the river crossing. Imagine the ebullient pattern left by a
bouncing ball or a rock skipping across water.
Surfliner coming in from the south, one can only see the tops of the
skyscrapers of downtown Los Angeles.
Many earlier generation Metrolink locomotives and coaches align
out tracks into Los Angeles Station.
We took on more passengers as we were stationary below the Metro
The Metro Headquarters Building (or One
Gateway Plaza) is a 398 ft high rise office tower in Los Angeles,
California. It is located in Northeastern Downtown Los Angeles, east
across the tracks from Union Station . Completed in 1995, it serves as
the main headquarters for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan
We saw the Taylor Yard Bikeway and Pedestrian Bridge
The Taylor Yard
Bikeway and Pedestrian Bridge, an aesthetically distinctive steel
structure, is ushering in a new generation of bridge crossings over the
LA River. Now open, the bridge is designed exclusively for pedestrians
and bicyclists, connecting the Elysian Valley neighborhood with the
active, residential Cypress Park community. While providing a safe and
memorable path to travel on, the bridge offers two cantilevered
lookouts with expansive north and south views of the adjacent
communities and natural surroundings of the Glendale Narrows section of
Taylor Yard Bikeway and Pedestrian Bridge is one of three pedestrian
crossings recently erected along the LA River as part of the Los
Angeles’ River Revitalization Master Plan. This crossing will
eventually connect to the Taylor Yard G2 River Park, a new, sustainable
recreational greenspace to be built on the 42-acre site adjacent to the
river known as the G2 parcel.
We passed the Van
Nuys Airport, above, as well as the Burbank Bob Hope Airport.
Burbank Bob Hope Airport is the closest LA regional airport which many
people, hoping to avoid the congestion of LAX, take then take the
Pacific Surfliner to downtown LA or points south.
This family was enjoying their first family train ride.
The Ventura Pier and distant Channel Islands.
The Crowne Plaza Hotel between the tracks and the pier.
This is the first time I have seen an Amtrak Station sign with the
red sign. It is
actually just covered benches with no services.
The Ventura River's muddy waters
emptying into the ocean thus replenishing the beaches with sand.
The surf was muddy with weeks of runoff as we skirted bays riding
from Ventura to Santa Barbara.
We were getting close to our destination station when we passed the lagoon next to the SB Zoo.
A beautiful sunny, cool day as we arrived at Santa Barbara Station.
Ticket windows and Lobby in the Santa Barbara Amtrak Station.
Santa Barbara station
Santa Barbara, CA
Location 209 State Street, Santa Barbara, California
Owned by Redevelopment Agency of the City of Santa Barbara
Line(s) UP Coast Line
Platforms 1 side platform, 1 island platform
Bus transport Amtrak Thruway: 4, 17, 21
Bus transport FlixBus
Bus transport Greyhound Lines
Bus transport MTD: Downtown Shuttle
Disabled access Yes
Status Staffed, station building with waiting room
Station code Amtrak: SBA
Original company Southern Pacific
FY 2021 123,317 (Amtrak)
Preceding station Amtrak
Following station San Luis Obispo toward Seattle Coast Starlight
Oxnard toward Los Angeles
Goleta toward San Luis Obispo Pacific Surfliner
Carpinteria toward Los Angeles or San Diego
Southern Pacific Train Depot
U.S. National Register of Historic Places
Area 4 acres (1.6 ha)
Architect Francis W. Wilson
Architectural style Mission/Spanish Revival
NRHP reference No. 06000658
Added to NRHP August 2, 2006
Santa Barbara station is a passenger
rail station in Santa Barbara, California, served by two Amtrak lines,
the Coast Starlight and the Pacific Surfliner. The Coast Starlight runs
once daily in each direction between Los Angeles and Seattle,
Washington. The Pacific Surfliner trains serving this station run ten
times daily (five in each direction) between San Diego and the Santa
Barbara suburb of Goleta, with two of those running in each direction
to/from San Luis Obispo further to the north. The station is fully
staffed with ticketing and checked-baggage services.
Santa Barbara station in a 1910 postcard
The station was built in 1902 by the
Southern Pacific Railroad in the Spanish Mission Revival Style. Design
work was by Santa Barbara architect Francis W. Wilson. It is located
within walking distance of Santa Barbara Harbor, Stearns Wharf and
State Street, Santa Barbara's main thoroughfare. The historic depot was
renovated in 2000; the project included the restoration of the ticket
office and upgrades to the plumbing, electrical and heating and cooling
For most of the first decade of the
Amtrak era, the station was only served by the Coast Starlight, which
ran southbound during the evening rush and northbound at lunchtime. In
1988, Amtrak and Caltrans extended the San Diegan, previously a Los
Angeles-San Diego service, to Santa Barbara, providing an additional
round trip between the Central Coast and Los Angeles. Eventually,
service was extended to nearby Goleta and later all the way to San Luis
Obispo, resulting in the route being rebranded as the Pacific Surfliner
Due to the length of the platform,
when Amtrak's Coast Starlight train is stopped, it blocks the two
streets to the north and south of the depot.
Of the 74 California stations served
by Amtrak, Santa Barbara was the 15th-busiest in FY2012, boarding or
detraining an average of approximately 834 passengers daily, and
serving a total of 304,382 passengers in FY2012.
The station was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on August 2, 2006.
We had planned to eat at the Monterey Bay Fish Company (under the flag
above), but it was no longer there. The Ronald Reagan Ranch
Foundation is between the Fish Company and the Amtrak Station.
We had lunch at The FisHouse,101 E Cabrillo Blvd, Santa Barbara, CA 93101
I had Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi Mahi.
We walked west on Cabrillo past the Blue Water Grill with faux lighthouse then up State St. to the station.
Ceramic tile bench at the station with image of former coastal passenger train.
The train we had taken to Santa Barbara had laid over at Goleta and was the same train we took south back to LA and Fullerton.
Our view from the upper level of the Superliner of State Street south and the Sterns Wharf.
The tracks run along the bluffs south of Santa Barbara.
The tracks and 101 are squeezed between the bluffs and the surf near La Conchita, California, Ventura County.
Arriving back in LA about sunset.
Bridges of LA County
As you leave Los Angeles Union
Passenger Station heading south along the Los Angeles River, you pass
under several vintage bridges.
Don reflecting on the day as a Surfliner passes heading for LA.
From the flyover, lower tracks cross the Los Angeles River looking east.
South Soto Street from the flyover looking north. 5:20 pm 1/16/23
Back in Fullerton on Track 3.
Our Surfliner heads on south toward San Diego as we head for the Pedestrian Bridge and home.
Cheers to Don's birthday and another Pacific Surfliner Rail Adventure to Santa Barbara. --Author
The Cafe Car
Attendant announced his menu and
coupon which could be downloaded on passenger's smart phone or other
connected device. We 3 used the coupons for $3 off any $5
purchase in the cafe even though it said it was expired. The
attendant explained that they originally planned to offer it for 3
weeks, but were still using it.