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A Trip to Ride the New San Bernardino to Redlands Arrow Service 10/24/2022

by Chris Guenzler

Elizabeth and I had been waiting for the Arrow service to start and it was announced that it would begin on October 24, 2022. As I always try to ride the first day service, we decided to ride the University of Redlands on that date. We asked friends if they wanted to join us and only two, Robin Bowers and David Aten, were able to. So Elizabeth and I drove to Tustin to board Metrolink 802 bound for the San Bernardino Downtown station on a day with Santa Ana winds.

Metrolink 802 arrived in Tustin and we boarded the bicycle car for our trip.

My beautiful wife Elizabeth ready for a good day of train riding.

On the left is Robin Bowers, who boarded in Santa Ana, and on the right is David Aten, who boarded in Orange. Just after leaving Santa Ana the train stopped at CP Lincoln and a BNSF auto rack train went by us on track two. We crossed over pass dead Metrolink 683 which had been sitting at Orange station since 7:30 AM. We made our way up the Olive Subdivision and onto the BNSF mainline at Atwood then ran through Santa Ana Canyon passing two BNSF stack trains with another sitting on track one waiting for dock time. At Riverside we paused for the four-hour late Southwest Chief to go by us then made our way to San Bernardino Depot, where we normally go detrain.

Stadler DMU 3401 was at the Arrow Shop this morning.

At San Bernardino Downtown, the four of us walked over to Track 2 and here is the view of the train which brought us here this morning.

Redlands Passenger Rail Project

The Redlands Passenger Rail Project is an innovative nine-mile regional rail project that provides additional transportation choices through the introduction of a new rail service, known as the Arrow, which integrates conveniently with other modes of transportation such as auto, bus and bicycle.

The Arrow will connect San Bernardino and Redlands and will offer residents, businesses and visitors a new commuting option to travel to a variety of leisure, education, healthcare and other destinations. Diesel Multiple Units have been identified as the preferred vehicle to provide primary service for the project. The DMUs are powered by an on-board low-emission, Clean Diesel engine which are smaller, quieter, more efficient, and cheaper to operate than standard locomotive haul coaches, similar to Metrolink. DMUs work interoperably on the same track as Metrolink and freight train services which allows for all three train services to use the same track in the existing corridor. In addition to local commuter service, a Metrolink locomotive hauled coach train will also provide round trip express service from Redlands-to-Los Angeles each morning with return trip from Los Angeles-to-Redlands each evening. Train 381 leaves Redlands at 5:58 AM and arrives in Los Angeles at 7:29 AM. Train 387 leaves Los Angeles at 5:26 PM and arrives at Redlands at 7:03 PM.

Previous rail service in Redlands included the Pacific Electric "Red Car" trolley system and the AT&SF Railway. The Pacific Electric San Bernardino line served Redlands from Los Angeles by way of its Eastern District, which opened in 1905 and was abandoned in 1937. San Bernardino County Transportation Authority envisioned a new passenger rail service that could re-connect San Bernardino and Redlands once again but would also have the ability to connect commuters to Los Angeles.

In January 2015, the project received environmental clearance. In 2016 the service was officially dubbed Arrow and three Diesel Multiple Unit vehicles were ordered from the manufacturer with expected delivery of the first vehicle to be Spring 2021.

Construction began in 2018 with early utility relocation, which moved sewer and water lines into alignment for the anticipated mainline construction efforts. On July 19, 2019, a groundbreaking ceremony occurred and mainline construction began. The two-year project includes replacing all track on the 9-mile line, rebuilding five bridges, and installing 24 grade crossings. While designed as mostly a single track line, two miles of double track will be constructed in the middle of the route between San Bernardino-Tippecanoe Station and Redlands-Esri Station to allow trains to pass each other.

Arrow Service Opening Day

Starting today, Metrolink riders in the Inland Empire can use the new Arrow passenger rail service to travel between the cities of San Bernardino and Redlands. The Arrow service adds four train stations in the two cities and introduces brand new Diesel Multiple Unit trains to Metrolink's cleaner-operating fleet.

Planned and constructed by the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority, Arrow will initially operate up to 42 weekday trains between 5:30 A.M. and 9 P.M., with service also available on Saturdays and Sundays. Connections between Arrow trains and Metrolink San Bernardino Line trains are available seven days a week at the San Bernardino-Downtown station. There are also connections to Metrolink's Inland Empire-Orange County Line.

"It's an exciting day for Metrolink and our partners at SBCTA as we take another step toward greater regional train travel throughout Southern California", Metrolink Board Chairman Ara Najarian said. "Metrolink continues to be a pioneer in environmentally responsible, safe and efficient travel".

The two San Bernardino Line Express trains will also be extended to the Redlands-Downtown Station connecting Redlands to Los Angeles Union Station.

"We are thrilled to open the highly anticipated new Arrow service for our riders in Redlands and San Bernardino", Metrolink CEO Darren Kettle said. "The Arrow service adds nine miles of new track, giving riders more options for cleaner, efficient travel in the area, connecting to Los Angeles, Orange County and beyond".

The new DMU trains being used for the Arrow service feature a sleek, modern design and are powered by lower-emission diesel engines for a quieter and more energy-efficient ride. Other amenities include level boarding at the station platforms, capacity for 120 passengers, space for up to eight wheelchairs, storage hooks for up to 12 bicycles and USB chargers at most seats.

"The launch of Arrow is monumental for both San Bernardino County and the Southern California region", Metrolink Board Vice-Chair and SBCTA Board Member Larry McCallon said. "The effort of SBCTA and Metrolink to complete a project of this magnitude is tremendous. By extending passenger rail service to Redlands with new, modern and eco-friendly trains, the agencies are fulfilling commitments to not only provide Southern California residents with greater regional rail connectivity, but also meet California’s aggressive climate-improvement goals".

Arrow trains serve the existing San Bernardino-Downtown Station, 140 S. E St., San Bernardino, as well as four new stations: San Bernardino-Tippecanoe Station, 1498 S. Tippecanoe Ave., San Bernardino; Redlands-Esri Station, 601 New York St., Redlands; Redlands-Downtown Station, 351 North Orange St., Redlands; and Redlands-University Station at the University of Redlands, 1100 East Park Ave., Redlands.

Here we found the quest of what we came here for.

Stadler Arrow Car 3402 looks beautiful on opening day.

Metrolink, San Bernardino County Transportation Authority and the Arrow emblem on these cars.

The interior of the Arrow DMU. We boarded the rear section and took seats on the right hand side with a big window. The train then started to move and we were on the way towards Redlands-University station. The ride is smooth and the seats really comfortable.

The train crossed the Santa Ana River then came to a stop and our conductor had to walk around the train. We were soon underway.

We came to our first station at San Bernardino-Tippecanoe. The train ran under Interstate 10, then past double-track section on the way to our next station.

Our next stop was at the Redlands-Esri station. Esri stands for Environmental Systems Research Institute which is headquartered in Redlands.

The third station is at the Santa Fe station named Redlands-Downtown. The train ran under Interstate 10 to our last station on the line at the Redlands-University where we detrained.

The A end of the car also has a California State Flag.

The Redlands-University Station on this lovely windy autumn day.

The end of the line at this point.

Our train set at the final station on this line.

Robin, Elizabeth and David and the Arrow Car.

Robin, David and the author with Arrow Car 3402. We boarded the rear section and took a right hand big window seat. The train stopped again after we departed the Redlands-University station and our conductor had to walk the outside for the second time.

The Arrow, what this service is called, on the San Bernardino Mountains. We stopped at the same spot as our eastbound trip and our conductor had to walk the train for a third time.

The train recrossed the Santa Ana River. We made it back to the San Bernardino Downtown station with six minutes before our train back to Orange County was scheduled to leave. The Arrow Service is excellent and a fantastic way to get to Redlands or the Redlands-University station.

On the way to the train, I took this picture of our ride home, Metrolink 815.

Metrolink 815. On the way back, our train developed PTC problems which cost us twenty minutes. David detrained at Orange followed by Robin at Santa Ana. It was great to ride with these two good friends. Elizabeth and I detrained at Tustin then went to The Habit for linner.