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Coast Starlight to Portland and the TriMet Green Line

by Chris Guenzler

I had planned to do this trip for some time, but somehow never got around to doing it. When my fantastic friends Bob and Elizabeth told me about the Royal Hudson running from Vancouver to White Rock and having never ridden behind this fine steam engine, now would be my chance. I made my Amtrak reservation to Portland and planned to ride the new Green Line once I arrived. I would stay one night at my usual Days Inn out on 82nd Street then the next morning, take MAX to Beaverton to ride the West Side Express service before taking Amtrak Cascades to Seattle and meeting Bob and Elizabeth there.

They would drop me off at a casino to see Queensryche while they saw a show in Seattle then the next day, we would ride the Seattle Streetcar and the Seattle Light Rail as well as a few other things in the area. Sunday morning, Bob would drive Elizabeth and I to the Edmonds station and we would ride Amtrak Cascadesto Vancouver and Bob would drive, staying at the downtown Quality Inn. We would be riding the Skytrain lines so I would get the rest of the Millennium Line that I had not ridden, including the new Canada Line. The following day was the Royal Hudson trip to White Rock and the bus back to Vancouver then a return drive to Bob's house in Lynnwood. On Tuesday, I would board the Coast Starlight in Seattle for home. It should be quite the trip!


I did not sleep very well the night before so I was up early and did a bit of cleaning before I packed. My mother then drove me to the Santa Ana station and I walked over to Track 1 via the grade crossing at Santa Ana Boulevard.

A Metrolink train arrived on its way to Laguna Niguel.

Next was the Union Pacific Costa Mesa Local, heading to the connection south of the station to the former Southern Pacific station.

Pacific Surfliner 763 2/3/2010

I boarded the lower level of Car 5 as the cab car was closed for a group boarding in Anaheim. It was a quick trip to LAUPT and soon I walked down to the Trax Lounge where I enjoyed an orange juice and waited for Conductor Bobbie Lee to take my ticket. We all walked out to Track 9 where the Coast Starlight was waiting for us.

Metrolink trains came and went at Los Angeles Union Station.

Metrolink 800 is the protection power stationed at LAUPT.

Coast Starlight 14 2/3/2010

The Coast Starlight at rest, which had a consist of engines 116 and 25, baggage 1248, transition 39019, sleepers 32009 "George M. Pullman" and 32057, Pacific Parlor Car 39970 "Columbia River", diner 38046, lounge 33019 with coaches 34065, 34515 {Video Games Lower Level} and 34032, along with dead-heading to Oakland 8201 "San Francisco Bay". I had Room 5 in "George M. Pullman" with the excellent Ron Harris as my Sleeping Car Attendant.

The rear of the Coast Starlight before our on-time departure. My room was on the inland side for this trip. I worked on this story then cleaned up a few things on my laptop. Out in the west San Fernando Valley, I put on my CD of Kiss "Sonic Boom" which took me almost to Camarillo then rode in the Pacific Parlor Car until lunch, where I was seated with Chris from San Diego. I had the Angus Steak Burger, which was excellent, and the key lime pie for dessert.

Later I took fresh air at Santa Barbara and found "George M. Pullman" still painted on the outside of this sleeping car. After that I put on my DVD of "Pirates of the Caribbean - The Curse of the Black Pearl".

Inland view as we neared Vandenberg Air Force Base.

An oceanside view just before Surf.

The last view of the Pacific Ocean of the trip.

Dropping down into the Santa Maria Valley where we stopped to wait for Surfliner 798.

Down at Guadalupe, Santa Maria Valley Railroad GP9 1801, ex. Great Western Railway 319; exx. Iowa Railroad 319, nee Milwaukee Road 319 built by Electro- Motive Division in 1959, was in town interchanging with the Union Pacific.

The Santa Maria River. My movie finished just before we arrived at San Luis Obispo, our next fresh air stop. We departed on time as I watched the bonus extras.

Our train on the Goldtree Horseshoe Curve, after which we crested Cuesta Grade then dropped into the upper Salinas Valley. I had a 5:00 PM dinner reservation and was seated with Rob from San Diego. I enjoyed a steak and vanilla ice cream for my dinner, then returned to watching the bonus DVD as we travelled down the Salinas Valley after dark. A fresh air stop was made at Salinas and I then learned that the Los Angeles 8th Street Yard did not water our sleeping car this morning and thus we are out of water until Sacramento. The DVD finished after Gilroy and I worked on this story some more then listened to my CD of Selena Gomez and the Scene "Kiss and Tell" as we headed to San Jose while I played Solitaire. We arrived at San Jose forty five minutes early and had to sit until departure time. Being tired, I then made up my room and called it a night.


I woke up at 6:20 AM and prepared for my day then went to the dining car for breakfast and was seated with a gentleman from Winnipeg. I enjoyed French Toast and sausage patties and took a tea to go to the Pacific Parlor Car and sat in one of those big comfortable chairs, where Is recognized by a reader of my website. The train then was approaching Klamath Falls and I changed into my warmer clothes as we arrived there at 7:25 AM and would be here a full hour. I stepped off to a pleasantly cold temperature at Klamath Falls.

The Coast Starlight starting to change crews.

Changing engine crews. The water problem had not been fixed as there is no vacuum in the water system that works. I decided to go for a walk and few more pictures.

The Klamath Falls Amtrak station from the Oak Street side.

I walked over and went down the next street to the west and found an old passenger car, history unknown, then returned to the train and read the Oregonian newspaper until we departed on time. Next I put on my "Fawlty Towers" DVD set for many laughs this morning. North of Klamath Lake, we passed through miles of snow showers then stopped briefly at Chemult before we climbed the grade up to Cascade Summit.

Odell Lake just before we plunged into the Cascade Summit tunnel and started down the west slope.

Scenes as we dropped down the grade from Cascade Summit. The Fawlty Towers first DVD plus extras took me all the way down to Oakridge then I waited for my lunch reservation at noon. I was seated with a couple going home to Spokane and a lady who had to get her food to go since she was detraining at Eugene and our train was going to arrive there early. I had the Angus Steak burger and key lime pie for dessert. Back in my room, I watched the second of the "Fawlty Towers" DVD set.

Two views of the Willamette Valley. The train travelled to Albany and Salem, leaving both of those stations on time. The train made its way into the Portland, where we arrived at 3:11 PM {3:40 PM} into Portland, ending yet another excellent Amtrak trip. We were held on the train about ten minutes until the southbound Coast starlight left late today and soon I was walking through Portland Union Station and out its front door.

Portland 2/4/2010

I walked over to the Green Line to board the first Green Line train heading south to Portland State University.

TriMet Green Line

The newest Light Rail Line in Portland opened on September 12, 2009 which connects the main line just off the Steel Bridge and runs south on both 5th and 6th Streets to the Portland State University, which is the west end {1.8 miles}. At the Gateway Center, they built the other new part south to the Clackamas Town Center {6.5 miles}, which serves the Portland Amtrak station and one can now connect with anywhere on the MAX system. This project was created to relieve congestion on the existing downtown Portland MAX alignment on Yamhill and Morrison Streets.

The train came into view to at the southbound NW 5th & Glisan station.

I boarded this train in Car 406A and started my ride on new trackage, heading south and stopping at NW 5th & Couch Street, SW 5th & Oak Street and Pioneer Place SW 5th Ave, which is a transfer station with the Blue and Red Lines. City Hall SW 5th & Jefferson Street was the next station and the line ended at the PSU Urban Center, SW 5th & Mill Street, with a connection here with the Portland Streetcar.

The train at the PSU Urban Center SW 5th & Mill Street stations. All passengers must get off here and if you want to head back north, you must walk southwest up some stairs to the PSU Urban Center SW 6th & Montgomey Street Station.

The train arrived at PSU Urban Center SW 6th & Montgomey Street station and I boarded Car 411A for my trip out to the Clackamas Town Center. You must check to make sure you are on a Green Line train because this section is also served by the Yellow Line. Once on the move, you cross the tracks of the Portland Streetcar. The first of the stations on this part of the line is SW 6th & Madison followed by the Pioneer Courthouse SW 6th, your connection point for the Blue and Red Lines. The next stations were SW 6th & Pine, NW 6th & Davis and then Union Station NW 6th & Hoyt Street.From here you turn east, passing the south side of Portland Union Station then a wye and interlocking with the first tracks we rode this afternoon. A pair of tight turns took us onto the Steel Bridge across the Willamette River and my new mileage ended for a few minutes. Riding east over the old route I had ridden many times, I relaxed and enjoyed the ride. Just east of the Gateway/NE 99th Transit Station, the transfer point to the Red and Blue Lines, we entered the new route towards the Clackamas Town Center and my new mileage started again aboard a Green Line train. We ran on the east side of Interstate 206 to the first station at SE Main Street. Our route then went under Interstate 205 and would run on the west side of the busy freeway all the way south to the Clackamas Town Center. The next stations were SE Division Street, SE Powell Boulevard, SE Holgate Boulevard, Lents/SE Foster Road, SE Flavel Street then SE Fuller Road. The line ended at the Clackamas Town Center station and I detrained for a few pictures.

My train at the Clackamas Town Center station. I reboarded and enjoyed the ride back to 82nd Street where I walked up the stairs and checked into the Days Inn across the street for the night. It had been a good trip over the new Green Line and tomorrow, the Westside Express awaits me!