Facebook Page

Metrolink Golden Dragon Parade Lunar New Year Celebration Special Train 2/4/2017

by Chris Guenzler

On my trip to Riverside on Metrolink last Tuesday, Conductor Henry told me about the special 661X train that Metrolink would run on Saturday, February 4th, 2016 for the Golden Dragon Parade Lunar New Year celebration in Los Angeles. I asked for a schedule and Henry obtained it for me. On the way home, I called Robin Bowers to see if he wanted to ride it and he did. So we made our plans and he would meet me at the Santa Ana station about 8:00 AM. Friday night I had the idea to ride Pacific Surfliner 562 and 763 and get some more Amtrak Guest Reward points before our trip. I called and left a message with Robin letting him know what I wanted to do.

Before the Trip

I arose at 5:30 AM and went to my credit union to deposit two checks from the Albany & Eastern excursion train that I was running the morning before Winterail. Next it was by the post office to mail two sets of A&E tickets to people who paid for the trip. After that it was time to buy my Amtrak tickets then fix breakfast and check my E-mail before driving to the station where I bought my Saturday weekend pass. I then waited for my first train of the day to arrive.

Pacific Surfliner 562 arrived at Santa Ana and I boarded the Surfliner cab car for my quick trip to San Juan Capistrano. We arrived early and I walked behind and found a surprise.

There is a wig-wag crossing signal on display here.

Pacific Surfliner 562 departed San Juan Capistrano on the way to San Diego.

The remaining section of the old San Juan Capistrano Santa Fe station. I walked to my boarding spot.

Pacific Surfliner 793 arrived and I talked with my conductor for most of the trip back to Santa Ana. I detrained and walked up to the third level open air balcony on the pedestrian bridge then called out to Robin that I had a few pictures to take before I joined him.

Pacific Surfliner 761 left Santa Ana for Goleta.

Pacific Surfliner 564 arrived then I crossed the bridge and went downstairs before it left and said hello to the conductor on 564 this morning.

Pacific Surfliner 564 departed for San Diego. I walked over to Robin and we caught up on things before our Metrolink train came in.

Metrolink 857 arrived backwards so Henry was on the other end of the train. We sat in the Quiet Car for a few minutes before walking the train to the cab car, where I introduced Robin to Henry. At Tustin, Robin spotted Christy Walker boarding our car and we sat togther, catching up on news.

All too soon we arrived at San Clemente Pier and detrained. We helped a lady who had put twenty dollars into the Metrolink ticketing machine and did not get any tickets. This machine has not worked correctly for at least four years that I am aware of. I give her timetable with the phone number and told her to press school group so she would get a person right away.

The San Clemente Santa Fe sign post.

Pacific Surfliner 1567 came through the pier stop where the gate horn sounds like a steam engine's whistle.

Robin and Christy at San Clemente Pier station. We waited for our train to arrive and learnt that Christy would be riding Metrolink 660 to Oceanside then Metrolink 663 home to Tustin.

Metrolink 661X Golden Dragon Parade Lunar New Year Celebration special train

We boarded the empty coach and enjoyed the peace and quiet.

Looking down the San Clemente Pier.

The San Clemente Pier.

North Beach looking towards Dana Point.

When I said empty coach, I truly meant empty coach. As the train moved north through Orange County we picked up very few passengers. After Buena Park we walked forward to see the conductor whom we met at the door of the cab car and he inspected our tickets. We detrained at Norwalk, ending our special train coverage.

Metrolink 661X on its way to Los Angeles.

Back to normal riding

We walked up the stairs at Norwalk before going across the bridge.

A BNSF stack train waits at Santa Fe Springs.

Metrolink 662 arrived. The conductor who brought up Metrolink 661, my normal weekend train, said he had 960 passengers jammed aboard his train and said I was very smart to have taken the special train this morning. I agreed!

BNSF engines at rest for the weekend at La Mirada.

Scenes of Fullerton Airport.

Before Anaheim we crossed the former Southern Pacific Tustin Branch.

Right after Anaheim, we crossed the Santa Ana River.

The train's reflection in the window of the building.

After Santa Ana was the former Southern Pacific Costa Mesa branch. The train stopped at Irvine and Laguna Niguel/Mission Viejo where we met Metrolink 663.

We have green hills again after our now normal rainfall.

The old barn.

The mustard plants are in bloom from all of our rainfall. We stopped at San Juan Capistrano and then met Pacific Surfliner 573 at Serra. Now the run along the beach.

The San Clemente North Beach sand project has been a major failure.

Looking towards Dana Point.

The San Clemente Pier.

The surf has been running high along our route.

San Mateo Creek has been running out to sea after our normal rainfall.

View looking down the coast.

San Onofre Creek reaches the ocean only at high tide. The train took us to Oceanside where I detrained for a picture while Robin went to Burger King.

Metrolink 665 ready to take us back to Santa Ana. He had a good series of rides today and soon we were back to Santa Ana, where we detrained.

Metrolink 665 at rest.

Metrolink 665 left Santa Ana as we walked back to my car and I thanked Robin for joining me today on our unique rides. I went home and relaxed.