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San Diego Blue Line Extension Pre-Opening Trip 11/06/2021

by Chris Guenzler

Elizabeth and I arose at 5:45 AM and after a great breakfast and checking the Internet, I drove us down to the Santa Ana train station and parked the car in the northeast parking lot. We walked into the station and met our group which was made up of Robin Bowers, MartySmith and his brother Greg. After I talked to John, our excellent Amtrak agent here, I led the way out to Track 2 where we waited.

This early morning Pacific Surfliner 562 arrived with Charger 2115 on the point of our train. We all boarded the cab car and took seats on the ocean side of the train.

Our group aboard the train. The train stopped in Irvine and San Juan Capistrano before we met Pacific Surfliner 765 at CP Serra then Pacific Surfliner 567 near CP Stuart before arriving in Oceanside. We stopped at Solana Beach then climbed Miramar Hill and dropped through Rose Canyon to Old Town before we arrived at the Santa Fe Depot in San Diego. The five of us walked over to the Pronto machine and used our cards to get a day pass for the trolley.

A San Diego Trolley leaving the Santa Fe station stop.

Our San Diego Trolley that picked us up and took us to 12th and Imperial where we met the group for our trip.

Ride the New San Diego Trolley Blue Line Extension Before Anyone Else Does!

The San Diego Electric Railway Association has been invited to take a once-in-a-lifetime trip on the newly completed Mid-coast Trolley Extension of the Blue Line on the San Diego Trolley! Saturday November 6, 2021, 10 A.M. Return approximately 12 Noon. Start and End point: San Diego Trolley headquarters, 12th & Imperial Ave.

We will have our own special train, running non-stop from 12th & Imperial up the coast, through UCSD, to University Town Center and back. We will slow down at each new station and learn about them.

Our Trip

We all checked in with Jim Price of the San Diego Electric Railway Association, and another volunteer who assisted him by handing us our ticket envelope. We met retired Amtrak engineer Tim Miller and his son, who used to work on CJ Hardman's train as well as the Amtrak Cascades and we shared stories. After that they announced that the train was ready to board so we did. Elizabeth and I went through the envelope once we had boarded the trolley.

The tickets for this trip.

The Map of the Blue Line Extension.

Fact sheet about the Green Line Extension. Gift bags we outside of the trolley so I went and got three for Robin, Elizabeth and myself.

Our bags included the map and fact sheet above, a Blue Line Extension lapel pin, a Pronto Card and a MTS sticker. Our trolley would be following a Green Line one to Santee as far as the junction to the new line.

Jim Price who was in charge of the trip. The trolley then closed the doors and we were off on this rail adventure.

We pulled through the Green Line Station at 12th and Imperial.

Our trolley took this diverging switch to the right track.

The trolley met the Green Line Trolley on the way to its last stop at 12th and Imperial.

The Gaslamp Quarter station.

Heading north up the Green Line.

The trolley ran through the Convention City station.

Running to the Seaport Village station.

Our trolley went through the Seaport Village station.

On the way to the Broadway Wye.

The junction at the Broadway Wye with the Santa Fe Depot in the right picture.

Views of the Sante Fe Depot station where we met another Green Line Trolley.

We went by another crossover on the way to the County Center/Little Italy station.

The trolley ran through the County Center/Little Italy station.

We waited for a green signal before proceeding.

Going down into the underpass as a Coaster train rolls by.

Approaching West Laurel Street.

Climbing the grade after passing under West Laurel Street.

We have a green signal as we prepare to head north as the Green Line train is now far enough ahead of us.

On the way to Middletown station.

Our trolley ran through Middletown station.

We passed through another crossover on this line.

On the way to Washington Street station.

A southbound Green Line trolley at the Washington Street station.

The green signals continue.

Our trolley ran by the Naval Information Warfare Systems Command building of Navy Region Southwest.

Approaching the Old Town station which we ran through.

The green signal telling us we are going onto the new line ahead.

We are approaching the junction to the Blue Line extension. Up until this point, I had always beared right and today, I would be going straight for the first time.

We have made it to the junction and it was announced we were here. Passengers in our car broke out into clapping and we were now all on new mileage.

Crossing the San Diego River.

Coming off the San Diego River bridge.

The green signals keep us heading north.

At the Tecolote Road station, the train stopped for a few moments and the operator announced the station, as he did at all the new stations along the line.

On the way to Clairemont Drive station.

At the Clairemont Drive station.

The journey to Balboa Avenue station.

The Balboa Avenue station.

Leaving Balboa Avenue station.

The trip to the BNSF flyover.

The journey over the BNSF flyover at the bottom of Rose Canyon.

A set-out track is just before our route goes under California Highway 52.

The route to the tunnel under La Jolla Colony Drive.

Heading through the tunnel under La Jolla County Drive.

The climb to the first bridge across Interstate 5. The rest of the line is all elevated above the surrounding urban landscape.

The journey to the Nobel Drive station.

The Nobel Drive station.

On the way to the VA Medical Center station.

The VA Medical Center station.

En route to the UC San Diego Central Campus station.

The UC San Diego Central Campus station.

The trip to the UC San Diego Health La Jolla station.

The UC San Diego Health La Jolla station.

Our journey to the Executive Drive station.

The Executive Drive station.

The passage to the UTC station, the last station on the line.

The UTC station. Everyone was allowed off here and some people went to the adjacent shopping centre for a washroom break while Elizabeth and I stayed at the station.

The view of the end of the track from the trolley.

Our two-car trolley at UTC station.

Another view of the end of the track.

My extremely beautiful wife Elizabeth at the UTC station on her first San Diego Electric Railway Association outing.

The author on his third San Diego Electric Railway Association outing. The two of us returned to the trolley and waited for everyone else to return. Once all had boarded, we started the trip back, making no stops. Due to the fact there was no stop at the Santa Fe Depot, we ended up missing the Coaster train back to Oceanside that we had wanted to take. I led the way off the trolley, tapped our Pronto cards and we waited for a Blue Line train to take our party to 24th Street and Jersey Mike's for lunch. After lunch, we returned to the Santa Fe station via two trolleys and upon buying our tickets, learned that Pacific Surfliner 581 was delayed and therefore would be late leaving San Diego. The five of us waited in the station then after the train arrived, a nice lady said we should get in line, so we ended up near the end of the line to board the train. We boarded Pacific Surfliner 581 and enjoyed the trip back to Santa Ana then Elizabeth and I headed back to the car and drove home, ending another excellent railroad adventure and new mileage for both of us.