"California Night Train" gaining interest

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rickycourtney

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Here's my pitch for messing with the Coast Starlight timetable.
Sleeping cars are a limited commodity... regular coach cars are not.
If the LA-Bay area market is the most important... put the sleepers on the overnight train... and make the Coast Daylight a coach-class train.
That said, if Amtrak can spare about four sleepers (which means they can't run on other routes)... then this is an unnecessary discussion.
 
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I agree. With that being overnight, the CS will have to be renamed Starlight!
I suggest the new train get the Coast Starlight name, since that is what it would do.
And....they could rename the present thru train, the "Pacific Coast Limited"....or "PCL" :)
 
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jis

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Here's my pitch for messing with the Coast Starlight timetable.
Sleeping cars are a limited commodity... regular coach cars are not.
If the LA-Bay area market is the most important... put the sleepers on the overnight train... and make the Coast Daylight a coach-class train.
That said, if Amtrak can spare about four sleepers (which means they can't run on other routes)... then this is an unnecessary discussion.
In reality though Amtrak will spare no Sleepers and the Coast Starlight will remain precisely as it is ;) So it is just another flight of fantasy discussion anyway until more Sleepers are acquired. 🤷‍♂️ One possibility is if California cun fund wreck reconstruction of three Sleepers if such are sitting in the back lot of Beech Grove, and deploy them on the two consist for the overnight train with one spare standby/shop spare.
 
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JermyZP

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Yesterday I was on the Pacific Surfliner and the car attendant was telling me that there was plans to start work on Salinas station for Intercity service for pacific surfliner before covid, but those plans are now delayed. It looks like Amtrak and California were looking into plans for the Pacific Surfliner to extend from SLO to San Jose long before Amtrak Conect was started.
 

joelkfla

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Yesterday I was on the Pacific Surfliner and the car attendant was telling me that there was plans to start work on Salinas station for Intercity service for pacific surfliner before covid, but those plans are now delayed. It looks like Amtrak and California were looking into plans for the Pacific Surfliner to extend from SLO to San Jose long before Amtrak Conect was started.
I was a WDW bus driver for 9 years. For a long time, there's been a joke around the Disney fan community, that if you hear something from a bus driver, it's not going to happen. That wasn't completely true, but for the most part we knew nothing more about the Disney Co.'s plans than the average Joe. But some drivers would pick up a random rumor and chat it up with the Guests.

Sometimes I wonder whether Amtrak OBS are in the same situation.
 

bms

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In reality though Amtrak will spare no Sleepers and the Coast Starlight will remain precisely as it is ;) So it is just another flight of fantasy discussion anyway until more Sleepers are acquired. 🤷‍♂️ One possibility is if California cun fund wreck reconstruction of three Sleepers if such are sitting in the back lot of Beech Grove, and deploy them on the two consist for the overnight train with one spare standby/shop spare.
Considering the current revenue structure, Amtrak should really order a lot more sleepers. Sleeper fares are high and they're still often sold out. Ideas for new service are sometimes dismissed because there isn't enough equipment. When it's more than $300 for a one-night sleeper ride from NYP to CHI, Amtrak is making enough money off that service that it's worth the investment in more cars. Meanwhile, I doubt they made anything on the many coach trips I took from CLE-BOS (677 miles) for $48 or CLE-NYP (618 miles) for $45.
 

Willbridge

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I suggest the new train get the Coast Starlight name, since that is what it would do.
And....they could rename the present thru train, the "Pacific Coast Limited"....or "PCL" :)
The direct Portland<>Los Angeles SP train was named West Coast. While that was via Sacramento and Bakersfield the name would better describe the current Trains 11/14 and the CS name could migrate to the overnight service.

As for suggestions of flipping the CS by 12 or so hours, that's a California Uber Alles idea. It could work as a second LAX<>SEA train, but if done with a single train would kill Trains 27/28 and the ridership out of the stretch from Salem to Tacoma.

The former Spirit of California as shown in the timetable above was designed by people who knew the market and was sabotaged by forces outside itself. It is a simple operation and hits big cities at good times. (I just was reading the SP attacks on it from my files.)

And in a better world, the last southbound and first northbound San Joaquin trains would run overnight via Barstow to LA and/or San Diego, serving a completely different set of Southland suburbs than the Coast Line overnight train.
 
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And in a better world, the last southbound and first northbound San Joaquin trains would run overnight via Barstow to LA and/or San Diego, serving a completely different set of Southland suburbs than the Coast Line overnight train.
If they did that, they could also have a Thruway connection from Barstow to/from Las Vegas....at least until a real train starts running that segment....
 

Willbridge

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Here's some background on the first Amtrak California attempt at overnight service. In reading through it I realized that this train belonged to the era when California thought of itself as one entity rather than as Balkanized auxiliaries to transit systems. There are pros and cons to both approaches.

There were obstacles even after the train was launched -- a bomb threat and a suicide on the inaugural run provided interesting content for news media and a 1911 law could have removed any elected official from office for accepting a free ride. The regular service was tested by the Blishaks and their report will seem familiar to recent riders on the revived Night Owl.
 

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Here's some background on the first Amtrak California attempt at overnight service. In reading through it I realized that this train belonged to the era when California thought of itself as one entity rather than as Balkanized auxiliaries to transit systems. There are pros and cons to both approaches.

There were obstacles even after the train was launched -- a bomb threat and a suicide on the inaugural run provided interesting content for news media and a 1911 law could have removed any elected official from office for accepting a free ride. The regular service was tested by the Blishaks and their report will seem familiar to recent riders on the revived Night Owl.
Great reads, thanks for posting! Yes, RTN was the 'AU' in its pre-internet day...:)
 

MARC Rider

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12 hours is a perfect duration for overnight train. I would be pissed if I pay for a room and ended up not having enough sleep for 2nd day’s work or tourism.
Boston to Washington on 67 is about 9 hours, and that's with having to pad the schedule with long station stops, and that seems to be a popular route.
 

Cal

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12 hours is a perfect duration for overnight train. I would be pissed if I pay for a room and ended up not having enough sleep for 2nd day’s work or tourism.
Yes, but if they also want to do a Palmetto-style train, that's a big gap between driving and train.
 

west point

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If Amtrak had enough sleepers we might already see the service but it may be many years before Amtrak does get enough sleepers.
 
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neroden

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First Amtrak has to decide that it actually wants to grow the overnight journey business. So far I have seen scant evidence of that. The latest Connect US map gives scant comfort to LD growth advocates like me.
Amtrak top management has been pretty clear on its hostility to making money, and desire to chase away customers, yes. We can hope that that will get changed if we pressure them because this is obviously not what Congress wants.
 
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Southern Pacific's "Lark" (Train): Consist, Schedule, Route (american-rails.com)

Keep the CS as the "day" train between the Bay Area (Sacramento/Oakland) and LAX, have the "Lark" (or rename it "Moonlight", "Spirit of California", etc) actually serve San Francisco instead. The SP schedule could be used as a template (I'm sure you'd have to pad it today).
Thanks for that timetable link!:)
What I found interesting in it, was that at various times, the "Oakland Lark" section, ran from Jack London Square to San Jose, rather than the main Oakland station at 16th Street, or in some instances from the Oakland Pier. Towards the end, a bus shuttled Oakland passengers to/from San Francisco.
 

George Harris

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First, when talking anything Bakersfield to LA, the reason for buses is because the railroad alignment is super slow due to its alignment. It makes the I-5 "grapevine" look like a Great Plains freeway. Additionally it is heavily congested with freight. So any down the valley train continuing to LA is a non-starter until the HSR gets their line built.

Second, you won't get much more speed out of the Coast Line without major alignment work. Yes, CTC and powered sidings would help reliability, but not much on a schedule except removing some slack. Who is going to pay for it? It provides no real benefit to UP. Best leave the Starlight more or less as is. An overnight similar to the previous overnight seems to be the better solution, and should attract enough people to fill more than one sleeper. When thinking sleeper cost, consider that it should be saving a hotel night for many of its passengers. Under current realities, it should have reliable internet. Yes, extend it to San Diego. There have been plans kicked around for a south end of LAUS to San Diego line connection, which should cut several minutes of the run time (maybe 10 min?)
 

Cal

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Second, you won't get much more speed out of the Coast Line without major alignment work. Yes, CTC and powered sidings would help reliability, but not much on a schedule except removing some slack. Who is going to pay for it? It provides no real benefit to UP. Best leave the Starlight more or less as is. An overnight similar to the previous overnight seems to be the better solution, and should attract enough people to fill more than one sleeper. When thinking sleeper cost, consider that it should be saving a hotel night for many of its passengers. Under current realities, it should have reliable internet. Yes, extend it to San Diego. There have been plans kicked around for a south end of LAUS to San Diego line connection, which should cut several minutes of the run time (maybe 10 min?)
Well Amtrak wants to extend more Surfliners to SLO, but I don't know how they're supposed to do too much with the current speeds. Unless they want trains arriving at midnight.
 

jis

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Well Amtrak wants to extend more Surfliners to SLO, but I don't know how they're supposed to do too much with the current speeds. Unless they want trains arriving at midnight.
Amtrak is unlikely to want to or do anything unless Caltrans asks them to do it with an adequate check attached.
 
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Cal

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Amtrak is unlikely to want to or do anything unless Caltrans asks them to do it with an adequate check attached.
It's in the 15 year ConnectUs plan. Probably is on Caltrans part.
 
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