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Sprinter Grand Opening

Sprinter Grand Opening Celebration

Oceanside to Escondido, California

December 28, 2007

Story and most photographs by Richard Elgenson
RailNews Network writer

Being based in Southern California has many benefits aside from our legendary weather, fires, earthquakes and traffic gridlock.  With the slow rebuilding of local mass transportation systems comes progress.  North San Diego County gots its newest system, the Sprinter, dedicated on December 28, 2007 in Escondido, California.  My invitation arrived in the mail and I called to rsvp with one major concern about attending, which was, would I be able to take Amtrak or Metrolink to Oceanside and use the Sprinter to get to the Grand Opening Celebration?  One Christmas gift I got was a call from NCTD on Christmas Day with the news that they would be running a special Sprinter train from Oceanside to Escondido.  I was instructed to be on board before 11:45 AM.  After viewiing the Amtrak schedule, I selected train 566 from Anaheim with arrival in Oceanside at 10:24 AM..  While on board Amtrak, I walked through the train looking for any familiar people heading to the Sprinter.  Downstairs in the cafe car, I found Art Brown, past board Chairman of both Metrolink (Southern California Regional Rail Authority) and the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA).  We seem to have a running joke that whenever I find Mr. Brown , I say, "if I didn't know any better, I'd say that you are Art Brown" to which he always replies "I am Art Brown!"  I invited him to join me in back in my coach where we caught up on rail issues. With some time to spend at the Oceanside, we checked out the station and met some of the other celebrants.  We arrived just before the NCTD people with their check-in lists.  I then met Paul Dyson, President of Rail Passenger Association of California (RAILpac).  It was obvious that local dignitaries were arriving and boarding the train.  I took the photos and figured out who the people were later.





Below left, these guys looked important enough, so I took their photograph.  Left to right, Art Brown, Metrolink and OCTA, Leslie Rogers, Federal Transportation Administration, Region IX, and Joe Kellejian, Mayor, City of Solana Beach, businessman and dedicated public servant  One member of the party kept calling Mayor Kellejian "the father of the Sprinter."  I would find out why, later.  Below right, the same officials on board, waiting to leave the station. 


They allowed us to check out the Sprinter control cab.  It has great visibility.


They also let us take turns operating the train.  Just kidding!


Below right, retired U.S. Congressman Ron Packard chats with Operation Lifesaver presenter Jay Sarno.  If Mayor Kellejian is the "father of the Sprinter" then Ron Packard is the "grandfather of the Sprinter."  This became apparent during the speeches in Escondido.


The interior of the Sprinter cars are very open with a low center floor area for ADA compliance.   Each car end has a raised seating area.


Sprinter continued