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First day trip on the new Perris Metrolink Line 6/6/2016

by Chris Guenzler

Metrolink finally announced that their new Perris Valley Line would open on June 6, 2016. I looked at their new schedule and with my work schedule at Heninger Elementry School in Santa Ana, the only train that would work would be Train 734 at 1:00 PM getting to South Perris at 1:55 PM. Coming back it would be Train 735 at 2:45 PM, getting to Riverside at 3:35 PM. I planned to work until 11:40 AM as usual then drive home, meeting Robin Bowers at my house then I would drove us out to Riverside and buy our tickets once we got there. My only new mileage would be the new connecting track but it has been years since I was last on that piece on railroad. It would be new for Robin from the BNSF mainline to South Perris. We had a plan, now to just do it.

Our Trip

I worked at Heninger then drove home, finding Robin waiting for me. I went inside, changed my shirt and put my Coca-Cola into my bag then gave Robin one of my Trainweb shirts to wear since he now has a web site on We drove out to Riverside with no traffic delays and parked in the west parking lot.

We used the Metrolink ticket machine and I tried 'South Perris' but there was no match in the "S" section. So I tried "P" and South Perris was found there. I helped Robin get his ticket, then we picked up the new timetable and special Metrolink Matters newsletter about the opening of the Perris Line. We then took the elevators up and over the pedestrian bridge to the east platform where our Metrolink train was waiting for us with all doors closed. Time for some pictures.

First Union Pacific 8242 East went through Riverside.

Metrolink 734, which would take us to South Perris on this first day of service. We then boarded the bicylce car on the train.

Me aboard Metrolink 734. We left going east out of the station so I would be on new trackage until we returned to the BNSF mainline.

My new mileage for now ended when the train reached the BNSF mainline.

Santa Fe Riverside station built in 1927.

The train headed east up the BNSF mainline to the new connecting track where my new mileage would start.

When we reached the mainline to Perris, my new mileage would be over.

Sugarloaf Mountain.

The train went by a remaining orange grove from the agricultural past of Southern California.

The train's first stop was at Riverside Hunter Park/UCR. We sat here waiting on time.

We ran beside the very rocky hills along the route.

Box Springs Mountain.

Climbing the Box Springs grade.

A view looking south towards Riverside.

Sugarloaf Mountain.

Climbing the Box Springs grade.

Looking back into the San Bernardino Valley.

Sugarloaf Mountain.

Box Springs Mountain.

Nearing the top of the Box Springs grade as the train neared the Perris Valley Surface.

Box Springs Mountain.

The next stop was at Moreno Valley/March Field station and again, we sat here waiting on time.

View of Mount Russell.

March Air Force Base.

Views of the March Field Air Museum.

Mount Russell and the Bernasconi Hills.

The view looking west.

The Bernasconi Hills.

The Perris Rock Castle.

The next stop was Perris-Downtown station. Yet again, we sat here waiting on time.

The Perris Santa Fe station built in 1892.

The tracks of the Orange Empire Railway Museum that come into Perris.

The Bernasconi Hills.

The Perris Airport.

Hills to the south of Perris.

The 526 parking lot of the South Perris station.

We had arrived at the South Perris station. Our layover would be 50 minutes.

The train reverses to the storage yard at South Perris.

A sign about the new service to the Perris Valley.

The only shelter at South Perris out of the hot sunshine.

Our train at the South Perris storage yard just to the east of the station.

The signal for the storage yard tracks at South Perris.

Looking back west towards Perris.

Metrolink Train 735 arrived to take us back to Riverside. The LA County Sheriff scanned our tickets on the return trip and Robin and I enjoyed our ride. We passed the BNSF local on the way back on their own set of tracks. Once back in Riverside we detrained and I drove Robin and I to the Habit in Santa Ana where I picked up my dinner. I watched about a period-and-a-half of the Stanley Cup game with my Pittsburgh Penguins who were ahead of the San Jose Sharks 2 to 0 before I left for the Orange County Railway Historicial Society meeting. A phone call from Christy Walker told me my Penguins won 3-1 in Game 4. One more win and they are the Stanley Cup champions. I returned home and called it a night; it had been a great first day trip on the new Perris Valley Metrolink line.