April 18th, 2011, I took the Coast Starlight from Davis, CA to Los
Angeles CA. I got up early, 04:
00 to get down to the depot by 6. Left
my house at 05:
00, and arrived at the depot in Davis with my laptop,
scanner, ticket, cash at 05:
35. A few Capitol Corridor trains arrived
and left, and #11 came into Davis slowly, with private car Silver
Solarium on the tail. It was on time.
I had seen it the week before. When the
Starlight stopped, I handed my ticket to a conductor, who checked in my
ticket, then told me to go to the last car, where I was assign seat 6.
It was an aisle seat. I thought, "forget it! I'm heading over to the
lounge." Fired up the computer, the scanner was running, got some
coffee ($1.75!) when we approached the Suisun Bay Bridge, and we made
good time into Martinez, and Richmond.
Crocket underneath I-80
There was a little bit
of fog shrouding San Francisco as we made our way into Jack London
Square in Oakland. We had a diverging approach at Shellmound and
a restricting speed at Emeryville, where we stopped to let folks on.
Some people took their time getting on, so we didn't leave until 0825.
Aproaching Desert Yard.
an Oakland Terminal Railroad locomotive switching cars, but was unable
to shoot it due to the trains speed. It's the thought that counts,
BART Aerial Line to SFO.
Amtrak Coach Yard
As we crawled into Oakland, we passed an AMTK genset switcher. Gotta just love the environmentalists now, huh?
were on Main 2 into JLS, and seeing the new track work in that area was
nice. But the clouds surely didn't help the mood.
New track work, Jack London Square.
Oakland JLS Depot.
out for a smoke break, then that genset I saw earlier came by and took
off the private car Silver Solarium to head back to the Coach Yard.
Capitol Corridor 547 arrived. We waited for the clear to start moving
further south. During the trip, I heard and announcement saying
something about San Luis Obispo, which I thought meant that we were
getting off. Thank god the conductor told me we were going through to
LA. Highball! We were outta JLS. We then approached East Oakland Yard.
We passed UP 1482, yard switcher, there. Saw the BART tracks far
to the left. CDTX 547 passed us heading Eastbound on the Main 2.
Boy, the Bay Area is a mess!
We switched at Elmhurst to the Coast Subdivision.
slowed past Elmhurst on the Coast Sub at around 15 MPH, through to
Mulford where we picked up speed to 50 MPH. Passed a small yard in that
area. Man, I love the horn on our lead engine, AMTK 161. We then
entered the South Bay Area around Russel, where we encountered the
marsh/wetlands. Then we went through an industrial area...again. Then
we passed Alvarado. Too many houses, I gotta say, but this is the Bay
Area we're talking about. Growth begets growth, eh? Well, by 09:
were at MP29.2. We proceeded to roll through Carter. We arrived in the
Newark Area at 09:
25, passed a local switching with UP 2088 and UPY 362
pushing south. Passed through Mowry. There was a red signal
somewhere in the Marsh, which forced us to crawl through to Santa
Clara. Passed another Capitol, 528 with a B32-BHW pushing north as we
headed south. We later got through the slow zone, and sped towards
Drawbridge and Alviso.
Town of Drawbridge...LOL!
Great America in the distance, below the sky.
was a report of gangs, but were ok. We passed the San Jose
International Airport at 0943. We started tilting when we approached
the Caltrain Mainlines at Coast...hmm, wierd. San Jose was just
minutes. We had to wait at Coast for Caltrain or something. Off to my
left at Newhall was the Caltrain CEMOF.
Private Observation Car at Santa Clara Depot.
San Jose Diridion Station
arrived at Diridion Station at 09:
54, and waited for our break to be
over while picking up passengers. Man, sitting right next to these red
and white Caltrain Bombardiers is exciting! And a Cabcar, too.
This trip is fun already, and we haven't even hit the coast! Out of San
Jose, we were told not to go over 15 MPH...WHAT?! We pulled out of San
Jose at 10:
07, passing by the standard Caltrain consist of 5 cars and an
MPI MP36PH-3C, JPBX 928. Nice sounding engine. We stopped for several
minutes, I couldn't hear anything on my scanner from Coast to Lick.
JPBX 915, South San Francisco.
finally pulled out at 1014. Fricking kids in the lounge were driving me
crazy. I have low patience for idiocy. Passed Tamien at 1019. Three
Altamont Commuter Express trains were sitting at the south end of the
station, in the storage yard there. We passed Lick at 1021, where I
could hear my scanner on the right frequency again. Apparently there
was track work on Main 1, somewhere in the San Jose Area...I sure
didn't see it! We were sure moving fast after San Jose/Diridion. I
We highballed into and past
Morgan Hill. We had to stop and guard a crossing at 73.2, Church Avenue
in San Martin. We had to go 10 MPH for this crossing...Hmm. As we
pulled by, we were slowed down by a work crew...Backhoe, three dump
trucks, etc...passed a green flag two miles later. About a mile later
AMTK 161 called the work crew to let them know that someone knocked
over their red flag, known as a "red board". Passed the Hollister
Branch spur at Carnadero.
Rounding the curves on the Coast Sub near Watsonville, er, to the east.
We arrived in Watsonville around 11:
22. Even with the muggy morning clouds, the valley was beautiful...
Note: I must railfan down here some day.
Shots of the yard from the Starlight Lounge Car.
passed MP 99.1, no defects, and we were going track speed 50 MPH. Track
warrant at Castroville, which made us stop in the siding there. The
Monterey Local was somewhere out there, as the engineer kept calling
them from Watsonville. We slowed down and stopped northwest of the town
of Salinas, for that track warrant to take us from Salinas to Gonzales.
the time we arrived in Salinas, the sun came out. We got the call to
highball at 1154. We passed the detector at MP 123.7, which said we
were going 71 MPH. Wow! On this stretch of Single Main Track?
This valley reminds me of home though...with looming mountains in
either direction, and one lonely mainline. Well, I'm not used to being
on a single track, but the ride is still comfortable, albiet a bit of
bouncing and rocking. The Salinas Valley is incredibly beautiful! I had
lunch around 13:
45. Bacon cheeseburger and chips and Sierra Mist.
All for $13.50(!)
passed Cuesta and the Cuesta grade at 14:
16. We got our final Track
Warrant from the dispatcher, and proceeded on the way down to San Luis
Obispo. We went past a work crew south of Cuesta, through a tunnel,
which I think is about 3/4 of a mile to a 1 1/2 miles long, then
another tunnel. And another one, shorter this time. Then a fourth
tunnel. Then down the Cuesta Grade opposite the 101 freeway. We
passed an abandoned tunnel where a fire must have broken out
creeped and crawled our way down to San Luis Obispo, through a
daylighted tunnel, down to the coast. Our train slowly creeped down the
grade to San Luis Obispo through the Horseshoe Curve between Serrano
and Chorro. Old ribbon rail adorned the ROW, as well as Southern
California rocky soil, old tie plates and spikes, and miscellaneous
riprap. Another tunnel came into view.
Popped out in no
time, but the problem was that every time we went into a tunnel, the
wireless would drop...thank god for my Droid, right?
California Mens Colony.
California Polytechnic State University.
San Luis Obispo
MP 248.5, we were able to go back to Double tracking, after around 200
miles! San Luis Obispo is a nice station, and by the time we got there,
the muggy cloudy skies we saw from Davis to the Bay Area disappeared.
I had to switch my scanner from 160.740 to 161.550.
At SLO, there were thrree loaded bulkhead flatcars with concrete culverts.
Some Cars and the freight shed at SLO
had to wait for AMTK 14 with AMTK P42 #6 on the point.with three
private cars on the tail. I was unable to see everything on the side I
was on. Then we went back to track warrant control from South San Luis
Obispo to Waldorf. We passed by the Pismo Beach State Park. At
Guadalupe, our train passed by a Santa Maria Valley Railroad caboose,
along with the interchange for the SMV. We finally saw the ocean
17 at MP 286.8, or closer to Narlon.
Pacific Ocean from Narlon.
Pacific Ocean near Tangair.
We stopped at Surf on the Coast Line, MP 299.0. We got a track warrant from Surf to Sacate at MP 329.9
Pacific Ocean at Surf
warrant at Sacate to Capitan MP 346. The view just kept getting better
and better. Beaches, palm trees, surf and turf, oil rigs off in the
distance. Just perfect. Only thing blocking my way at Gaviota was the
telephone pole, but only briefly. Some pretty unnerving moments were
when we went over a trestle. I counted four of em, and I'm looking
straight down! YIKES! But the water of the ocean looked so inviting.
From my seat in the lounge, I could see the Catalina Islands, looming
in the distance like giant barracudas waiting for their meals. Once we
got past Tajiguas, we started really speeding, upwards of 70 MPH.
Flew by Goleta 17:
44. Then we arrived in Santa Barbara at 17:
SP Coach Santa Barbara.
Santa Barbara Depot
Santa Barbara at 18:
19, due northeast towards Ventura. We finally
got down to beach/sand/surf/ocean level. Well, about a 10 foot
difference, but let's not go into specifics/details. Then we went back
on a grade, between the mountains, and the freeway, which closely
followed us from San Jose. We reached the city of Ventura at 18:
arrived at Oxnard at 19:
09. Nice red brick building, the Oxnard
Transportation Center looks nice in a city roughly 30 miles northwest
of Los Angeles, which is saying something.
Well, it was too dark to
shoot after 19:
20, so I decided to digest any information regarding the
trip until it was thirty minutes from LAUS.
27, past UP detector MP 421.1
30, approached Los Posas UP MP 426.4
35, stopped Moorpark or CP Madera, couldn't tell which since night was
fast approaching. We pulled into the siding to let a Metrolink train
pass. It did pass by at 1941 PM.
43, resumed motion.
45, announcement for Simi.
46, SCAX detector MP 434.3
49 SCAX detector MP 437.3
50, arrived Simi Valley Station.
52, highballed to Chatsworth, site of the 2008 incident that called for ZERO CELLULAR PHONE policy.
53, pulled into siding to wait for AMTK/CDTX train #75?, which will put us down about a 1/2 hour late.
03, continued on our way to Burbank, then to LA.
05, went through Chatsworth Tunnel.
09, we cleared CP Topanga.
11, passed Chatworth Station
16, past SCAX detector MP 451.3
16, announcement Van Nuys, diverging clear.
41, estimated arrival at LAUS.
46, actual arrival in LAUS
30, checked into my hotel, Best Western Dragon Gate Inn.
actually arrived ahead of schedule. AMTK #14 is scheduled to arrive in
Los Angeles at 2100. We arrived at 2046. Not bad, not bad. Coulda been
Well, that's it for Day One. Click on Next to see the rest of my trip, including my explorations of LA.HomeRailfanning