Starlight Sacramento to Fullerton, California
--Parlour Car glass divider.
Following the TRAC 2008 Conference in
Sacramento, I boarded the Monday morning Coast Starlight at Sacramento
Station for a planned detour over the SP route and through the
Tehachapi Route back to Los Angeles, then Surfliner on out to
Fullerton. The Coast Starlight
is scheduled to depart SAC about 6:34 a.m. and an early check with
Julie (1-800-USARAIL) indicated that the train, that originated in
Seattle, would be on time.
We had stayed at the Vagabond Inn, about
2 blocks from the platform at the station, so we walked, pulling our
luggage. When we crossed the street in front of the south end of
the station, we saw that the Coast
Starlight had already arrived! As it turned out, guests on
the train said they had arrived about 5:30 or so. Instead of
walking through the station, we just passed the Starbucks and walked
directly to the platform and to our nearby Sleeper #1130. It was
the same crew that we had come to Sacramento with, so we greeted Robin
our car attendant and she said that many had detrained here in SAC, so
would we mind taking room 9 instead of 3. Of course we complied
and began storing luggage and settling into our roomette.
We departed at the assigned time and we soon went to the Diner for
breakfast. Tom, Car Attendant in 1132, has confirmed on the
earlier trip that the only way to get fresh eggs for breakfast on the
train was to order an omlette. I enjoyed the omlette, though it
seemed a bit overcooked. Of course, in each sleeper, before
breakfast and during the day, Robin had coffee, cranberry, apple, and
orange juice, but for ice, we were instructed to go to the Parlour
Car. I find it much more convenient to have ice in your own car
so you do not have to walk to another car for it, and interrupt the
Parlour Car Attendant to get a cup of ice, and walk back, get the
juice, then return to your room.
We departed SAC as the sun was rising. We backed out of the
station, eastward, to the wye, then turned south instead of passing
westward through the station, across the river bridge heading for
Once we were underway, Robin
soon had time to make
up all the rooms
of departed guests. Since there would be no guests boarding all
the way to Los Angeles, any unoccupied room in Sacramento would remain
unoccupied for the duration. With this in mind, and the fact that
Robin had been our car attendant on the northbound trip, she offered
one of the Bedrooms to us. This was much appreciated, and we reflected
our appreciation in our tip at the end. There are many advantages
of a Bedroom over a Roomette on the train. As you can see
below, the 6-foot long couch allows one guest to lie down while the
other guest can still use the table and chair. Also, the Bedroom
has a shower/toilet combination, and sink, mirror, and small cabinet
top next to the sink. It has a closet for a couple of jackets as
full-length couch by day/lower bunk by night.
Bedroom's table and chair.
Bedroom's shower/toilet behind the door (about the size of an airplane
toilet), and sink and storage cabinet above and below the sink.
Of course you can use the car's shower/dressing room downstairs, or one
of the many restrooms in the car.
The mirror on
the door behind the chair has a mirror, making the room seem much
larger. If you have two Bedrooms, this door can be opened,
otherwise, it is just one more thing to rattle. There is a small
shelf above the chair. Beside the chair, there is room on the
floor for a small bag, which you would have to move only to use the
We paralleled Hwy. 99 from Sacramento to
Bakersfield, through the Central Valley, the "Bread Basket" because of
the number of edible crops grown there.
Our only stop was at Bakersfield for crew change and Nicotine Feign
stop. We were told 'don't go past the posts' on the former depot
Turning east at Bakersfield, after passing a few groves, the
terrain soon changed from flat farmland to upgrade, curves, and tunnels
as we traversed the Tehachapi Mountains.
The Tehachapi Loop is the highlight of
this route, but it is hard to photograph from the train. The best
view is from east of the loop where the track is elevated and you can
see the entire loop, but your train is shorter than the loop and you
won't see any train on the loop. I was hoping that the northbound
Coast Starlight might be in
the loop awaiting our arrival, but we passed her before the loop.
She had preceeded us through the loop by a few minutes.
It was interesting talking with
Grande, of TrainWeb.com, via cell phone,
as we approached the loop, since
he was on the northbound Coast
Starlight this same day.