Can the Coast Starlight route be extended?

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JermyZP

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Is it possible for the Coast Starlight to go to and from Seattle to San Diego. There are routes on other long distance trains where the train would go into a dead-end station and then back up back onto the mainline. What are your thoughts?
 

zephyr17

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Is it possible for the Coast Starlight to go to and from Seattle to San Diego. There are routes on other long distance trains where the train would go into a dead-end station and then back up back onto the mainline. What are your thoughts?
It is physically possible. The Surfliners go through from Santa Barbara (Goleta) and San Luis Obispo to San Diego every day, although those run push/pull. And there are plans to create access to the station from the south across US 101, making it a through station.

Also, when the Starlight is early, it is not infrequently wyed on arrival, the incoming train pulling forward to San Diego Junction, them backing in, making the subsequent move to the 8th St Coach Yard easier.

And FYI, the California Zephyr is wyed at Denver every day.

The main issues not making it a through San Diego train are not LAUS' physical plant. The issues are of schedule (too long, with very late arrival and very early departure), and the fact that the Starlight's maintenance base is LA's 8th St Coach Yard. San Diego has no equivalent facilities. Plus it drastically shortens the amount of time available to turn the train.

Then there's the little matter that wying the train in San Diego would require a move through the US Marine Corps Recruit Depot (the Marines' west coast boot camp) in the middle of the night. Eliminating the move through the Recruit Depot was a small part of the reasoning behind converting the San Diegans to push/pull.

Not happening. LAUS currently being stub ended is the least of it.

FYI, in Amtrak's earliest years the Starlight was officially a San Diego-Seattle train. There was a through coach and sleeper carried on the connecting San Diegan. The through cars stopped pretty early on, by 1973 or 74, IIRC.
 
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WWW

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Is it possible for the Coast Starlight to go to and from Seattle to San Diego. There are routes on other long distance trains where the train would go into a dead-end station and then back up back onto the mainline. What are your thoughts?
I think the Surfliner is powered on both ends so the reversing of the consist is not necessary -
The CS consist would require a WYE to turn the train around - that WYE being available ?
OR the CS could be split at Los Angeles like the EB is done at Spokane with only a small consist being used on the San Diego segment -

The B-I-G question is there a real market for running this extension as opposed to a simple connection ?
 

Amtrakfflyer

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Born and raised in SD, it was short lived but definitely in the late 90s it did run a coach and sleeper down to San Diego I rode it. Here’s a link to confirm.


“For a couple of years in the mid-1990s, the Coast Starlight sent 2 through coach cars from Los Angeles to San Diego as the last Pacific Surfliner train of the evening (#511). The coaches were then coupled onto the first morning train back to Los Angeles where they were re-coupled to the remainder of the Coast Starlight for the journey to Seattle. This was later discontinued because of the timekeeping unreliability of train #11. Instead, if train #11 arrives into Los Angeles prior to the final Surfliner departure, through passengers to Orange County and San Diego will take the connecting Surfliner train, otherwise passengers will be provided motor coach transportation to destinations south of Los Angeles (the motor coach option typically occurs with greater frequency than the train).”

“In the 1990s, a group of through cars was again offered between the two cities for a few years . Here, however, there are regular and relatively frequent connections with the regional train service of the Pacific Surfliner
 
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Cal

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And the cross-platform connection is very easy to do anyway, I've done it once before and will be doing so again in December (can't wait!)
 

danasgoodstuff

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Extending the other end to Vancouver BC seems more desirable to me, but that could be because I live in PDX and go to BC often.
 

Amtrakfflyer

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Exactly, regarding the easy connection your going to want get off the train for the 60-90 mins anyway. I used to enjoy a bagel and coffee at Union Bagel back in the day. The thru cars would help the mobility impaired but it really is a easy connection.
 

zephyr17

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Exactly, regarding the easy connection your going to want get off the train for the 60-90 mins anyway. I used to enjoy a bagel and coffee at Union Bagel back in the day. The thru cars would help the mobility impaired but it really is a easy connection.
And you survived? I understand Union Bagel got closed for health code violations😲
 

OBS

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It is physically possible. The Surfliners go through from Santa Barbara (Goleta) and San Luis Obispo to San Diego every day, although those run push/pull. And there are plans to create access to the station from the south across US 101, making it a through station.

Also, when the Starlight is early, it is not infrequently wyed on arrival, the incoming train pulling forward to San Diego Junction, them backing in, making the subsequent move to the 8th St Coach Yard easier.

And FYI, the California Zephyr is wyed at Denver every day.

The main issues not making it a through San Diego train are not LAUS' physical plant. The issues are of schedule (too long, with very late arrival and very early departure), and the fact that the Starlight's maintenance base is LA's 8th St Coach Yard. San Diego has no equivalent facilities. Plus it drastically shortens the amount of time available to turn the train.

Then there's the little matter that wying the train in San Diego would require a move through the US Marine Corps Recruit Depot (the Marines' west coast boot camp) in the middle of the night. Eliminating the move through the Recruit Depot was a small part of the reasoning behind converting the San Diegans to push/pull.

Not happening. LAUS currently being stub ended is the least of it.

FYI, in Amtrak's earliest years the Starlight was officially a San Diego-Seattle train. There was a through coach and sleeper carried on the connecting San Diegan. The through cars stopped pretty early on, by 1973 or 74, IIRC.
Not to mention there is no Commissary in SD, and the crew is LA based, etc
 

Amtrakfflyer

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LA basin has some of the hardest health inspections I’ve ever seen. It’s not uncommon to see grade B in the windows of very high end restaurants and of course low end ones too. Parts of Santa Monica you’ll see more B’s than A’s. I think it’s mostly a CA thing to have a A, B or C in front window. Yes Union bagel did have issues but good bagels!

And you survived? I understand Union Bagel got closed for health code violations😲
 

Chris I

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Extending the other end to Vancouver BC seems more desirable to me, but that could be because I live in PDX and go to BC often.
I just wish they would run the early morning train up to Vancouver. Before Covid, the only option was a 2pm train that gets to Vancouver very late, and then a 6am train on the way back.

I don't think it makes sense to run the Starlight over the border, though. Amtrak has very few options up there for servicing cars or swapping staff. It makes sense to turn in Seattle.
 

zephyr17

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I just wish they would run the early morning train up to Vancouver. Before Covid, the only option was a 2pm train that gets to Vancouver very late, and then a 6am train on the way back.

I don't think it makes sense to run the Starlight over the border, though. Amtrak has very few options up there for servicing cars or swapping staff. It makes sense to turn in Seattle.
Extended 500, the 8:20 am Portland departure would get to Vancouver at 4:20 pm, assuming a 30 minute dwell in Seattle and 4 hour running time Seattle-Vancouver. Pair it with an extended 507, leaving Vancouver at 1:25 pm, allowing a 4:25 Vancouver-Seattle running time and a 30 minute dwell in Seattle for the current 6:10 departure time.

That would give decent times in Vancouver for Portland riders in addition to the kind of horrendous ones of 517/518.

Now for them to resume Cascades service to Vancouver at all, then both pre-COVID trains, then a third train, BNSF and CBSA willing.
 

Cal

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Extended 500, the 8:20 am Portland departure would get to Vancouver at 4:20 pm, assuming a 30 minute dwell in Seattle and 4 hour running time Seattle-Vancouver. Pair it with an extended 507, leaving Vancouver at 1:25 pm, allowing a 4:25 Vancouver-Seattle running time and a 30 minute dwell in Seattle for the current 6:10 departure time.

That would give decent times in Vancouver for Portland riders in addition to the kind of horrendous ones of 517/518.

Now for them to resume Cascades service to Vancouver at all, then both pre-COVID trains, then a third train, BNSF and CBSA willing.
The whole Cascades route should receive more service, I believe there was only 5 round trips PDX-SEA pre-covid.
 

zephyr17

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Pre-COVID there were 4 Cascades trains providing service between Seattle and Portland, 2 of which were Eugene-Seattle, one was Portland-Vancouver, and one just Portland Seattle. Plus the Starlight. There was also a Seattle-Vancouver Cascades, making 2 trains to Vancouver.

There were briefly 5 Cascades when the Point Defiance cutoff opened then closed in the wake of the Nisqually wreck. BNSF has made using the Point Defiance Cutoff a condition of adding additional service beyond 4 Cascades and the Starlight because single track sections of the Point Defiance line make it a capacity constrained bottleneck. The new 5th train came off within a month or so after the wreck.

I am unsure about this, but I seem to recall Washington DOT's ultimate goal may be 8 SEA-PDX Cascades.
 
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George Harris

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There were briefly 5 Cascades when the Point Defiance cutoff opened then closed in the wake of the Nisqually wreck. BNSF has made using the Point Defiance Cutoff a condition of adding additional service beyond 4 Cascades and the Starlight because single track sections of the Point Defiance line make it a capacity constrained bottleneck. The new 5th train came off within a month or so after the wreck.
That long out of service time has to be one of the most ridiculous overkills of all time. Basically the derailed train was overspeed at the curve connecting back into the Point Defiance main. You can be sure after this no one operating a train would miss this speed restriction again. The line should have gone back into service as soon as the cleanup was completed.
 

Cal

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That long out of service time has to be one of the most ridiculous overkills of all time. Basically the derailed train was overspeed at the curve connecting back into the Point Defiance main. You can be sure after this no one operating a train would miss this speed restriction again. The line should have gone back into service as soon as the cleanup was completed.
I agree.
 

Willbridge

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Extended 500, the 8:20 am Portland departure would get to Vancouver at 4:20 pm, assuming a 30 minute dwell in Seattle and 4 hour running time Seattle-Vancouver. Pair it with an extended 507, leaving Vancouver at 1:25 pm, allowing a 4:25 Vancouver-Seattle running time and a 30 minute dwell in Seattle for the current 6:10 departure time.

That would give decent times in Vancouver for Portland riders in addition to the kind of horrendous ones of 517/518.

Now for them to resume Cascades service to Vancouver at all, then both pre-COVID trains, then a third train, BNSF and CBSA willing.
Three trains a day between Van, BC and Seattle would allow a cycle that would terminate in Seattle for servicing every other night. It would be Day 1 > SEA > VAC > EUG > Day 2 > EUG > VAC > SEA. By coincidence, three trains a day was the original GN Internationals service (with a fourth train for mail and express and all stops).
 

coventry801

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Those work in Silicon Valley tend to own properties between Orange County and San Diego area. A through train, preferably overnight sleeper train would make a lot of sense.
 
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jis

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That long out of service time has to be one of the most ridiculous overkills of all time. Basically the derailed train was overspeed at the curve connecting back into the Point Defiance main. You can be sure after this no one operating a train would miss this speed restriction again. The line should have gone back into service as soon as the cleanup was completed.
Washington DOT did not come out of all this looking like a particularly competent bureaucracy. Its main motivation appeared to be posterior covering to the max instead of figuring out how to restore service. But then they had nothing to lose really even if nothing ran. Thank our stars that they retained the Talgo 6s until they could substitute other equipment instead of simply discontinuing all service for the duration until they got PTC and Siemens rolling stock, or something absurd like that :)
 

WWW

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Rail connections with cruises - - -

San Diego
-----Surfline --- Coast Starlight extension
San Pedro (Port of Los Angeles) - Long Beach *** there is a difference here
-----Coast Starlight - Chief - Sunset - Surfline
San Francisco (*** Emeryville connection Oakland side of the Bay)
-----Coast Starlight - Zephyr
Seattle
-----Coast Starlight - Empire Builder - Cascades - Rocky Mountaineer
Vancouver
-----Cascades - Rocky Mountaineer --- Coast Starlight extension

Possible a grand rail tour using the Rocky Mountaineer connections at both Seattle and Vancouver

Anchorage via ports of Seward and Whittier using the Alaska Railway
-----airline flights to Anchorage and Fairbanks


There are more possibilities but if you built it will they come ?
Timely connections of the train & cruise
 
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