Pacific Surfliner and Coast Starlight FUL-SEA round trip

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Cal

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Alright, so. This morning we woke up later than expected at 6:40 (meant to wake up at 6 — oh well). Scrambled to get ready and pack last minute things, but in the end we got to the station with plenty of time. At the station we printed our tickets and headed to track 3. While waiting we saw a southbound Surfliner, a late Chief, and a few intermodal trains. Our train arrived about 14 minutes late. Quick and easy ride to LA, much of the time I spent staring through the (best type of) railfan window in the cab car. Mask compliance was surprisingly good, I only saw a handful of people wearing it incorrectly or not at all.

Upon arrival into LA the conductor announced that train 14 would be on track 10, we had come into track 13 and so we easily walked over. 14 came in at 9:27, and I got a picture of the engine. Then we boarded in business class and our attendant seems very nice and festive. Currently getting situated and we will be departing shortly. The Chief just pulled out to heard back to the yard, and announcements have already came in about the diner (we will probably be getting dinner there tonight).
 

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Cal

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Once we got situated we relaxed at our seat. The crew seems great, and the conductor is strict about masks (mask compliance is decent). In the seat back pocket there’s a card about the diner, and around 11:15 the LSA (Rickie) came by for reservations for lunch and dinner. We got a 7:15 dinner reservation; community seating is in effect. Then we went to the SSL and got lunch, which for me was the pizza which has become a tradition when traveling on Amtrak. My partner finished their sandwich from this morning (we got it at the cafe at Fullerton, it’s pretty good). The ocean soon came into view and it’s a beautiful clear day. I went to the railfan window twice and got some good pictures to show how close the tracks are to the cliff. We arrived 5 minutes early into SBA, and the attendant almost closed the door before I got there since I got there past the two minute horn — but not that late.

Now the ocean has just came back into clear view, and I’m gonna relax until SLO. Will probably head to the SSL soon.
 

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Cal

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Enjoyed dozing for a few hours while gazing at the coastline. I saw some dolphins, which was nice. After a while I went to the SSL and stayed there until SLO. I had never bht here’s to look for the Air Force base and so that’s what I did, and I saw the launch facility for SpaceX. I didn’t realize how close the train got, we went right past the end of the runway. At SLO I hopped off and walked to the front of the train and back. After departure I went right back to the SSL and enjoyed the scenery of the Cuesta Pass. This pass is honestly wonderful, and it’s insane how much we ascend in a short amount of time. The hills are beautiful and the curves of the track allow for a great view of the train. Train 11 was waiting for us right past the horseshoe curve. After that I spent some time admiring the engineering. Currently just entering Atascadero and im still relaxing in the SSL:
 

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Cal

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for much of the next hour I relaxed in the SSL, once it got too dark I heard back to my seat where me and my partner played some cards. After that we just sat back and relaxed. When Salinas came up I stepped off, and enjoyed the crisp air outside. About an hour after leaving Salinas we were called to the diner for dinner. Unfortunately our seat mates werent up for much socializing, so conversation between our two parties was limited. Dinner, however, was excellent. The train was bouncing around a lot as we approached San Jose, and for much of the meal we were at San Jose. After that we went back to our seats and relaxed. Didn’t get off at Oakland as I had fallen asleep a bit earlier than I wanted to. Prior to Oakland we were stopped for a bit, and left Oakland about 30 minutes late, and we are currently sitting in the Oakland yards. I’m too tired to stay up, so after I’m done with this I’m going to sleep. Hopefully tomorrow we stay close to on time. Good night
 

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jiml

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Good morning Cal and thanks for the detailed report so far. Are the seats shown in Post #2 the business class ones on the Starlight (noting you picture a Surfliner in the same series)? They look much nicer than the business class seats just a few years ago, when it appeared they were just using a standard Superliner coach with the blue cloth seats for business class.
 

Cal

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Good morning Cal and thanks for the detailed report so far. Are the seats shown in Post #2 the business class ones on the Starlight (noting you picture a Surfliner in the same series)? They look much nicer than the business class seats just a few years ago, when it appeared they were just using a standard Superliner coach with the blue cloth seats for business class.
Yes, they are the business class seats on the starlight.
 

Cal

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Good morning. My sleep was okay at best, took a little while to fall asleep. At Sacramento the attendant made no effort to stay quiet unfortunately, and so I was woken during that stop. I woke up a few times overnight. At around 6:30 I decided to stay awake and remained at my seat for a bit. Between Oakland and now we lost two hours, not sure why, but I don’t mind. When it started to become lighter I got up and got ready for the day. As I was getting ready we stopped at Dunsmuir and I went to the SSL to get some pictures. To my happiness, the ground is covered with snow. Once ready, I went back to the SSL and that’s where I am now. Currently rolling through Mount Shasta (the town). Soon we’ll get breakfast from the cafe.
 

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joelkfla

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Good morning. My sleep was okay at best, took a little while to fall asleep. At Sacramento the attendant made no effort to stay quiet unfortunately, and so I was woken during that stop. I woke up a few times overnight. At around 6:30 I decided to stay awake and remained at my seat for a bit. Between Oakland and now we lost two hours, not sure why, but I don’t mind. When it started to become lighter I got up and got ready for the day. As I was getting ready we stopped at Dunsmuir and I went to the SSL to get some pictures. To my happiness, the ground is covered with snow. Once ready, I went back to the SSL and that’s where I am now. Currently rolling through Mount Shasta (the town). Soon we’ll get breakfast from the cafe.
Lovely views.
 

Cal

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Hopefully I can get this next part in before we lose service.

We got breakfast, I had a bagel and orange juice, it wasn’t bad. After eating I enjoyed the views, honestly the scenery in northern California is beautiful. It’s a shame that It’s usually passed in darkness. It was a big change when we entered the areas that the wildfires burned. Going over the bridge that had burned was cool to see as well. When we were approaching the CA-OR border I went to the railfan window. At Klamath Falls I stepped out, and passengers had fun in the snow. In fact some strangers started a snowball fight. After 13 minutes we departed and I went back to the SSL. Soon it got more snowy And I was loving the snow covered landscapes. The last time I was on the starlight I was kn the wrong side for the best views so I got some nice surprises. When we picked up speed I ventured back to the railfan window to see if we were kicking up snow and saw that it had a bunch of water droplets covering it. I hung back there for a bit and then returned to the SSL. As we arrived in chemult it started lightly snowing, it’s the only snowfall I’ve seen. Unfortunately it didn’t last long. But the trees are now covered in snow and it’s beautiful. My partner got lunch reservations, although the train is completely full so we will be eating at our seats as there is no room in the diner. I’m still hanging in the SSL and will continue to do so until lunch.
 

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Cal

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Forgot to mention, the conductor who got on in Klamath and one of the coach attendants are strict on masks. Mask compliance is still decent.

I’m not sure of the situation but someone who got on in chemult isn’t listening to the crew and now has ignored the conductor twice.
 

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jiml

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Forgot to mention, the conductor who got on in Klamath and one of the coach attendants are strict on masks. Mask compliance is still decent.

I’m not sure of the situation but someone who got on in chemult isn’t listening to the crew and now has ignored the conductor twice.
That most recent pic looks like a postcard! Nice work Cal.
 

Cal

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Pretty soon we began going through snow sheds, which is a fun experience. Unfortunately, just as we were entering the most scenic part lunch was delivered and I had to back to my seat. Lunch was good, although I prefer the diner and breakfast options. The carrot cake was splendid, however. Once I finished lunch I went back to the SSL and enjoyed watching as we descended the mountain. I took another trip to the railfan window and got some nice shots. Upon returning to SSL I just dozed on and off for a while until Eugene. It was raining lightly so I didn’t stay out for long. After Eugene I enjoyed the pleasant scenery of the willamette valley, and it’s always fun when we’re going “fast.” As we continued to move north the rain got harder. Shortly before Albany we stopped to allow a UP manifest to pass. I used this time to go back to my seat to retrieve a snack. We just left Albany and jt is raining pretty hard out there, im glad to be on the train. Running just under an hour behind.
 

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Cal

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Shortly after Albany the conductor announced connections with 28, as a lot of people were transferring. Apparently 27 hit a boulder and needed a new engine, so 11 was giving them one of their engines. So because of that the train will be delayed by an hour anyway, and even if that hasn’t happened they would’ve held it anyway as tomorrows 28 is sold out. I continued relaxing in the SSL as darkness came, and we passed the now fairly late 11 around Johnson City. Since it was now dark I went back to my seat and just relaxed. We arrived into Portland an hour and 24 minutes late at 5:04. A good amount of people disembarked, and a whole lot of people got on, at least 15 people for business and a lot more for coach. During this time I ran up to the engines and snapped a few pics, one neat thing to notice is that the two engines leading 28 were sister units 201 and 202. then I went to the rear of the train to get a picture of Portland Union. One of the dining car staff members was outside, and I asked if I could take a peek into the kitchen. They declined, which is completely understandable. And it doesn’t hurt to ask as I’ve previously been allowed into the kitchen of a CCC — although that was on a flex route when dinner service was wrapping up. I remained outside till I saw the conductor getting ready to close the BC door. We started moving for about 20 seconds and then came to a stop to wait for train 505 (I wonder if @Triley was on it), as soon as it came in we began moving. Now I’m back at my seat where I intend to stay until Seattle, and we are just arriving into Vancouver.
 

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Willbridge

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Note that the stretch between Eugene and Albany used to make the annual Trains magazine speed survey. In 1958 the Shasta Daylight and the heavier Cascade were scheduled to cover the 44 miles in 41 minutes southbound and 39 minutes northbound, including the station dwells.
 

Cal

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The ride for the rest of the evening was uneventful. I scrolled through my phone for much of it, while also noting the speed and listening to the horn. I also went on the chehalis railcam when we passed, which was nice. About an 90 minutes before arrival into Seattle the attendant (Maria is her name) gave us some roses, nice touch. When we went over the site of the 2017 Cascades derailment I looked out, not much to see but a lot to remember. I also looked out when we passed Boeing field, I was surprised to see how tall we were when compared to the aircraft. Tomorrow I’m looking forward to seeing it in daylight. About 30 minutes prior to arrival we packed up our things, and enjoyed the speedy ride through the Seattle Metropolitan area. Being a railfan, my eyes naturally looked at the Amtrak and Sounder yards, which are always cool to see. When we pulled into the station I saw the two remaining Talgo sets, they are beautiful. It’s a shame they’re gonna be gone so quick. We arrived just before 9PM, and we disembarked fairly quickly. Seattle King Street Station has such a beautiful interior. We walked to the nearby Hilton and checked in. I can hear the trains from the room which is great. Now I am going to sleep, tomorrow morning I hope to take a very quick ride on the streetcar and see Seattle Union Station. Thanks for reading part one, I see y’all tomorrow.

the last picture is in the hotel room, neat feather. The TV also has Amtrak departures, although they are outdated.
 

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Maglev

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Thanks for the report! It sounds as if Business Class worked well for you.

I was going to say that schedule looks out-of-date, but then I saw that it was at the hotel. What do you expect from a place with paintings of 6-6-0 locomotives in the bathroom!
 

Cal

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Thanks for all the kind words, and thank Apple for the good photos, not me.

The night at the hotel was great, got a good nights sleep. We woke up at 7 and got a nice breakfast in the hotel. One interesting thing to note is that I saw some BNSF employees who work on the Sounder trains at the hotel buffet, apparently they’re out ip for the day between the morning and evening trains. After breakfast we packed and then walked around for a little, picking up Starbucks on the way, and then headed to the station. I saw one of the diner staff walking around Seattle as well. The station was pretty full, I honestly love the station, it’s beautiful. A coach attendant was at a booth where coach and business passengers had to get their seat assignments prior to boarding (in LA our attendant just assigned seats when we boarded).Sleeper passengers we called to board first just before 9:40, shortly followed by business. We got on the platform at 9:43. We have the same consist and crew as the way here, which is nice. Our attendant, Maria, welcomed us and we settled in our seats, where a bottle of water was waiting for us. As we departed I looked out the window (which is remarkably clean) at the Talgo set that was parked. It’s a shame I’ll probably never be able to ride them. We departed one minute late, to my surprise, as I didn’t expect all the coach passengers could get on so quickly. Seeing the Seattle Amtrak/Sounder yards was neat as well. We were soon speeding down south. When we passed Boeing Field I saw one of my favorite aircraft; the 777X. I also got a glimpse at a Boeing 737 train. We are fhrr let approaching the Auburn Sounder station at track speed, and the LSA (Rickie again) will be coming around soon for lunch and dinner reservations.
 

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jis

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Boeing train:
Yep. They will head out to the Renton plant where 737s are assembled.

I noticed that the 779 has its wings folded up. I saw the early ones being assembled when I last visited the Everett plant, and the Carbon Fiber wing spars being laid out on mandrels for cooking in the autoclaves.
 

Cal

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We got a dinner reservation for 5 PM, and again, community seating is in effect due to the high passenger load. I went to the SSL and enjoyed seeing the cities we were going though. Before we went down the Point Defiance bypass we waited for train a Cascades train, but soon we were hustling alongside the freeway where we were going slightly faster than the cars. For the next few stations we departed a few minutes late due to long boarding times, and at Olympia we did a double stop. The scenery in the PNW isn’t dramatic, but it is pleasant. When we went through chehalis I hopped on the railcam, I wish there were more (free) cameras along Amtrak routes. I don’t know why, but the ride between Seattle and Portland felt way shorter than it did yesterday. All too soon we were arriving into Portland, 10 minutes early. I took the 40 minute stop to take some pictures of the engines. I also went inside the station and took a picture of it from the courtyard in the front, which is the most daring thing I’ve done at a stretch stop (call me lame all you want). I still had plenty of time when I got back inside, and used the station facilities instead of the small train ones, they were very clean. Like yesterday, a lot of people got on at Portland, and I overheard multiple people who are going to California in coach and business. As I was walking back to my care I saw that it was jointed rail, which surprised me. It also surprised me to see a gap between the two rail pieces. Before we departed I went back to the SSL and began writing this. Now we are speeding up and passing an intermodal freight yard — I was surprised to see intermodels, I didn’t think there were many up here for some reason.
 

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