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First run of the Sunset Limited on the new daylight schedule out of Los Angeles March 9, 2005

by Chris Guenzler

Amtrak announced it was changing the eastbound Sunset Limited schedule out of Los Angeles by leaving eight hours earlier due to Union Pacific track work between Deming and El Paso. They are adding miles of second track to their Sunset Route. I posted the new schedule on Trainorders and it gave me the idea of going to Tucson to ride the trolley there. Below is the new schedule Los Angeles to Tucson and return.

Sunset Limited 2 3/9/2005

Los Angeles 2:30 PM PST

Pomona 3:11 PM

Ontario 3:24 PM

Palm Springs 5:06 PM

Yuma 8:24 PM MT

Maricopa 11:17 PM

Tucson 2:20 AM

Train 1 3/10/2005

Tucson 12:25 AM MT

Maricopa 2:32 AM

Yuma 5:19 AM

Palm Springs 6:37 AM PST

Ontario 8:05 AM

Pomona 8:15 AM

Los Angeles 10:10 AM

Steve Grande and I got talking one day about taking the Sunset Limited out to Pomona on that new timed run and the Metrolink Riverside line back to Los Angeles. About ten days later at our new Train Riders Meeting the last Monday night of the month at the Rail Restaurant in Fullerton, that night Steve suggested that we could ride to Palm Springs and then get a ride back to Fullerton. I figured out the time the Sunset would get to Palm Springs and it sounded like a good idea. Steve said it was a go so after returning to Santa Ana I stopped at the ticket office and made my reservation for the possible trip. I called Steve and he had arranged the ride home through Pride On my way home the next day I picked up my ticket. Over the next few days Steve had arranged our group. Beside Steve and I, Ray Burns of Trainweb, my good friend Carl Morrison, Ken Barrett, Ken Ruben, Art Tomlin, Ed Gills and Bob Manning would all be riding out to Palm Springs together on the new timed Sunset Limited.

One other thought, this new schedule would allow a weekend to Palm Springs. You could leave Los Angeles at 2:30 PM and get to Palm Springs at 5:06 PM. Find a hotel out there that would pick you up and drop you off on Sunday. Of course, call Sunday at 5:00 AM to see how the Sunset is running west. If it is on time, get dropped off at the Amtrak station at 6:15 AM for the 6:37 train to arrive and get back to Los Angeles at 10:10 AM Sunday morning. As always you could connect to the train by Surfliners both north and south of Los Angeles.

Surfliner 573 3/9/2005

I was at the Santa Ana train station early to start this rail adventure and learned my train to Los Angeles would be ten minutes late. The Surfliner came in the push mode with Cab Car 6900, Coaches 6410 and 6405, Coach/Cafe 6306, Pacific Business Class 6801 with F69PHI 464. That unit was sent back to Beach Grove for nose repairs after an accident at Oxnard. It came back painted in Intercity Blue not Surfliner Blue. Conductor Edy took my ticket and we were off to Los Angeles to connect with the Sunset Limited. We paused in Anaheim before we arrived into Fullerton where I went down to the door to meet our group. In Fullerton my good friend Carl Morrison boarded along with from Trainweb Ray and Steve along with Art, Ed and Ken Barret. John another Amtrak employee asked to join us and we said just get a ticket in LA and it is a go. Track work slowed us before our midday stop at Norwalk. We arrived into LAUPT at 1:54 PM or 19 minutes late.

Carl and I left the group for a picture of Surfliner 573 and the 464. With no Sunset Limited in the station yet we then headed down into Los Angeles Union Station and rejoined our group. Ken Ruben, the official caller of Lets Talk Trains that great Internet Radio show that airs live on Saturday mornings from 10-12 Pacific Time or in the achieves 24/7 joined our group. The station board got interesting at 2:32 PM when it said "Sunset Limited on time" and underneath "Texas Eagle Delayed".

Sunset Limited 2 3/9/2005

At 2:37 PM they opened the gate and we all headed to the Sunset Limited/Texas Eagle. Our group of 8 now boarded Superliner Coach 34159. Our Sunset Limited had 95 and 841 for power, Baggage 1738, Transition 39026, Sleepers 32015 and 32099, Diner 38064, Lounge 33029, Coaches 34035, 34159 and 34052 with Sleeper 32053. The last two cars the Texas Eagle section of our train to Chicago. Over the scanner came, "Is this the inaugural run of the Sunset Limited?" "Well it is a good thing you are finally riding in daylight!" We departed LAUPT at 3:07 PM {2:30 PM} and were on the move towards Palm Springs. Our first delay was because of a bad ordered sleeper they knew about Sunday when the train came in but did nothing about it until Wednesday at 1:30 PM, one hour before departure time.

A Gold Line Train arrived into LAUPT as our Sunset Limited departed town.

The last Sunset Limited on the old schedule arrived at Mission Tower forcing us to run via San Gabriel instead of the usual Metrolink route down Interstate 10. That westbound Sunset arrived into LAUPT at 3:19 PM, 8 hours and 39 minutes late.

We crossed the Los Angeles River. The Sunset Limited ran through the El Monte/San Gabriel grade separation trench. We passed a UP eastbound as we traveled down the concrete trench. We rolled east through San Gabriel and on to El Monte.

Here we rejoined the usual Sunset Route as it came off the flyover from the San Bernardino Freeway.

Our train went under the Metrolink flyover across our Sunset Route and the San Gabriel River before we passed through the City of Industry. I went to the lounge car briefly and met Bob Manning who lives in Palm Springs. To join us on our trip he was driven to San Bernardino where he boarded a Metrolink Train for LAUPT. Near Walnut, Mt Baldy could be seen through the moist haze in the San Bernardino Valley.

The train pulled into Pomona and departed there at 3:54 PM {3:11 PM}. That was followed by slow running to Ontario where we waited for ten minutes waiting for the UP 4946 West. We departed Ontario at 4:21 PM {3:24 PM}. We traveled east to Guasti where we took the siding to let the BN green CEFE 7170 West leading two UP units pass us. The UP 6571 was tucked into the siding at South Fontana with the UP 2420 in the siding behind him.

The Sunset Limited ran along the north side of the large West Colton Yard.

Our Sunset Limited took the bypass track then rolled under the Palmdale Cutoff.

We crossed over at CP Rancho then crossed the joint BNSF/UP tracks at Colton Crossing.

We next ran passed the UP 4636 West at the old Colton Yard.

A few minutes later a rear door shot near Loma Linda.

The Sunset Limited entered San Timiteo Canyon and the Orange Groves. A few minutes later we came to a stop at CP Ordway MP 548. Once we were on the move slowly once more, I passed my 852,000.0 rail mile at MP 548.2.

As we slowly continued to follow another UP eastbound stack train a few more pictures of our train in San Timiteo Canyon. Part of our group returned to our seats.

With Carl having his GPS unit working, we were following that freight at 12 MPH as we neared the Fisherman Retreat. We came to a stop at Hinda. I went to the lounge car for the ride over the summit of Beaumont Hill down below Cabazon. The Sun had set as we passed through Beaumont as we finally got up to track speed. Near Apex we finally got by the UP 4824 East as we then headed down grade through Banning and Cabazon whose new hotel is the tallest building in Riverside County. The dinosaurs of Cabazon were spotted as we caught up to yet another UP eastbound freight which we would slowly follow towards Palm Springs. We passed through West Palm Springs before we crossed the Whitewater River. We arrived at our double stop at Palm Springs at 6:55 PM. After unloading the front sleeper we pulled forward onto the platform to unload our car. We all stepped off the Sunset Limited at 6:59 PM. We all headed for the white limo with Bob not joining us for the trip back to Fullerton as he lives in Palm Springs. The Sunset Limited left Palm Springs at 7:01 PM {5:07 PM}.

The Limo Trip to Fullerton then home 3/9/2005

Bill from Pride Limo was waiting with his stretch 12 passenger white limo. We had nine going back so it was a little tight but very comfortable. With no cares in the world we headed back to Fullerton via the Interstate 10 to CA 60 to CA 91. Good conversation was had as wine was passed around the limo with me not having any as you all would suspect. We listened to one of my Ian Anderson solo CD "Rupi's Dance" before we listened to the Beetles "Abby Road". The trip took an hour and twenty minutes with us getting dropped off at Branagans in Fullerton for dinner. I was not hungry and just had water. Carl then drove me back to the Santa Ana train station with us talking about our wonderful Nevada Northern Photo Freight Trip last December. I drove home ending another fantastic Amtrak adventure with a new twist at the end. Oh, what about our Sunset Limited? It departed El Paso just 40 minutes late.

Photos that Carl Morrison took of the trip.