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Why does the Sunset Limited stop in Ontario instead of somewhere farther east in the Inland Empire?

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DesertDude

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The Sunset Limited stops in Ontario, just 7 miles east of where it stops in Pomona. After Ontario, the train doesn't stop anywhere until it reaches Palm Springs. For the route, this seems like a weird placement for a station given that people who live in Redlands (for example) have to drive 30 minutes west to hop on a train that will pass back through their city.

The Ontario station is as bare bones as it gets. It's simply a small pavilion with two benches. There are no bathrooms, ticket kiosks, agents, or other structures. No metrolink or other commuter trains stop there. The adjacent parking spaces are on land owned by the City of Ontario, which could also be used for their nearby museums. I'm assuming parking is in high demand in the area as those spaces sit adjacent to a city-owned parking garage.

Given that Amtrak has very little in terms of infrastructure investment in Ontario, would it make sense if this stop was shifted eastward to somewhere like Colton or Loma Linda? Seems like that would be a better place to draw in ridership from San Bernardino, Riverside, Moreno Valley, etc.

I realize Amtrak itself doesn't have much funding to create new stops, but maybe a partnership with a town or institution in that area would make a new stop possible. For example, they could work with the city of Loma Linda and Loma Linda University to build an Ontario-esque platform/pavilion in the vicinity of Elmer Digneo Park, which is on the other side of the tracks from campus.

Anyway, it's just an idea. I'd be curious to know if anyone on the forum knows the back story as to why Ontario has a stop but nowhere to the east does.
 

SanDiegan

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Good question. I don't know the answer, but it is likely for "historical" reasons. The stations at Pomona and North Palm Springs aren't much better. Neither was Indio, when they used to stop there. It would probably be best to route the train on the BNSF through Fullerton and Riverside, like the Southwest Chief, since both cities have better facilities. The Fullerton station is staffed, has secure free parking and better connections to the Pacific Surfliner, Metrolink and local transit. Riverside also has parking, Metrolink and local transit connections.
 

Devil's Advocate

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Any new station needs t o meet ADA requirements. Expect a $2M at least cost.
Does the whole entire platform need to be ADA level boarding? Is there a way to compromise on cost by making it half or quarter size ADA and still be able to serve disabled passengers at a price more towns could afford?
 

jis

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As I am given to understand, this does not meet the latest ADA incantations from the FRA, though pre-existing such setups are grandfathered.
 

anumberone

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If you remember the Jack Benny Radio show, they was always a background announcement stating, train now leaving for Anaheim, Azusa and Cucamonga. That was the end of the line back then. Things haven't changed for Amtrak l guess.
 
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trainman74

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If you remember the Jack Benny Radio show, they was always a background announcement stating, train now leaving for Anaheim, Azusa and Cucamonga. That was the end of the line back then.
Those were just three Southern California cities that Jack Benny and his writers thought sounded funny together -- they had no relation to any actual railroad operations. (In fact, Anaheim is in a different direction from the other two.)
 

anumberone

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Those were just three Southern California cities that Jack Benny and his writers thought sounded funny together -- they had no relation to any actual railroad operations. (In fact, Anaheim is in a different direction from the other two.)
Yeah, I don't know why they included Anaheim other than like you say. But, Cucamonga is next to Ontario and it probably felt like the end of the line back in those days. Why hasn't Amtrak added further stops in the Inland Empire. Population certainly has exploded in that direction the last 30 years.
 
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SanDiegan

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Yeah, I don't know why they included Anaheim other than like you say. But, Cucamonga is next to Ontario and it probably felt like the end of the line back in those days. Why hasn't Amtrak added further stops in the Inland Empire. Population certainly has exploded in that direction the last 30 years.
Riverside is perfectly located to serve the Inland Empire. Ontario not so much.
 

west point

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Remember a full ADA [platform requires either a separate station track or at least a gauntlet track. Either one require more maintenance of the track at the switches and of course the necessary signaling.
 

me_little_me

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What about a platform at superliner height set back from the tracks with step down to existing height and having built-in ramps for all passengers that by remote control from train, move out to provide entrance at each car?
 

railiner

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Can you say, 'maintenance nightmare'? I knew you could....
Not to mention, going very slowly to precisely spot the doors to the ramps. Would add a bit of time to station stops. And serious time if one or more of the ramps got stuck in the extended position.

IIRC, Superliner's already have manual ramps in their vestible's....
 

jiml

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It's important to note that Ontario also has an airport, so if one is heading to most of the communities mentioned above and doesn't want to contend with traffic and the other hassles at LAX, it's a great alternative. It's also right near the Amtrak station, so wonder if a transportation "hub" of some sort was once considered.
 

Skyline

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Here's how GO does it in Toronto......




I think the type of accessible ramp used in Toronto is well thought out and could be implemented at modest cost and in a brief construction window, and would work at many Amtrak and VIA stations. If anyone knows, what about this setup doesn't meet current ADA requirements (as another post suggested)?
 

crescent-zephyr

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What about a platform at superliner height set back from the tracks with step down to existing height and having built-in ramps for all passengers that by remote control from train, move out to provide entrance at each car?
Brightline has this, it’s attached to the train itself and fills in the gap between the train and the platform.
 
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Just-Thinking-51

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Superliner railcars ADA platform do not interfere with freight rail cars. Sure oversized loads will have issues, but let’s not stress over a imagined problem.

Do we have a better town to place a station. That the starting point. Next is where in this town.

Since the Sunset is not yet a daily train it will be a hard sell, but it can be done.

I don’t know the history, but that just a fun fact. Getting a better location is a doable issue.
 

crescent-zephyr

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By the way Ontario is not some small town, I’ve worked several events there and they have a large arena and a large mall. I’m not sure why you wouldn’t want to serve Ontario.
 

DesertDude

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It would probably be best to route the train on the BNSF through Fullerton and Riverside, like the Southwest Chief, since both cities have better facilities. The Fullerton station is staffed, has secure free parking and better connections to the Pacific Surfliner, Metrolink and local transit. Riverside also has parking, Metrolink and local transit connections.
This is probably the better way. Fullerton is convenient enough for people in both Orange County and Pomona/Covina/etc., and Riverside is better located for the Inland Empire. In Colton, the train can veer right back onto the same ROW it currently takes out to Palm Springs.
 

DesertDude

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Just for fun - does anyone know if the San Bernardino Metrolink line (the one that goes through Covina and Rancho Cucamonga) can accomodate Superliner equipment? If it can, maybe a rerouted Sunset Limited could stop in Claremont and San Bernardino instead. Those two stops have some great station buildings! 😁
 

jis

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Brightline has this, it’s attached to the train itself and fills in the gap between the train and the platform.
Indeed. It is just yet another use of the technology that has existed in Europe for multiple decades to extend steps out to the platform edge as the door opens. Most European platforms are set back from the train edge to some extent, so these steps close the gap making it harder for people to fall into the gap. Apparently they have not been a maintenance nightmare in Europe. But of course we know now that we cannot maintain things here as well as in Europe, so who knows what will happen here? 🤷‍♂️ 🤪
 
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SanDiegan

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This is probably the better way. Fullerton is convenient enough for people in both Orange County and Pomona/Covina/etc., and Riverside is better located for the Inland Empire. In Colton, the train can veer right back onto the same ROW it currently takes out to Palm Springs.
Nothing like a little local knowledge :)
 
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