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Pacific Railroad Society presents Excursion 552 The Perris Express 1/21/2017

by Chris Guenzler

I came home from my first day of the 2016 school year at Heninger Elementary School in Santa Ana and went on when I saw a post entitled "Ride the Special Train to Perris and OERM on Saturday 10/1/2016". I clicked the link and bought my ticket then called Chris Parker and Robin Bowers to tell them about it. New mileage would be limited but it would be a fun day of train riding and spending time with my friends. The trip was then rescheduled until January since the day chosen was the Union Pacific Railroad Historical Society Picnic.

The Trip Information from

That's right, Metrolink does not normally provide service to Perris on weekends, so this will be a special train from Los Angeles to Perris via the San Bernardino line outbound and the Riverside line inbound. Our special train will travel down the middle of Interstate 10 to San Bernardino, then south towards Riverside where we branch off on the new Metrolink Perris line. Stops will be made on the new branch for photo opportunities. At Perris, we'll take turns riding a historic bus to take us the final two miles to the museum. This special PRS excursion includes admission to OERM, an all-day ride pass and lunch in Pinacate Park at the museum. This is your chance to ride many of Los Angeles's historic trolley cars, Pacific Electric Interurban cars, see Ward Kimball's Grizzly Flats Railroad, and visit PRS' funeral car, the Descanso. Equipment for this special train will be Metrolink bi-level coaches.

The Trip

I arose at 5:00 AM, fixed breakfast then got online and received my final update on the Perris Express trip I was taking today. I went to the store and returned before driving to the Santa Ana station where I met Robin. We waited and down the platform were women with picket signs going to Los Angeles for a march for Women's Rights.

The train arrived on time and we found seats on a very crowded train which beecame standing room only at Anaheim and was worse by the time we left Fullerton. We arrived at Los Angeles and found Chris Parker on the station platform.

Today was a Vino Train to Santa Barbara put on by LARail. Robin and I went down to the tunnel and picked up our tickets, as well as Chris Parker's, behind the fish tank at the east portal of LAUPT then walked over to Philippe's where we found Chris Parker and we joined the line. I ordered a double-dipped roast beef sandwich with cottage cheese and a can of Coca-Cola. After a good early lunch, we all returned to the station where I saw the most crowds that I have ever seen. Women were everywhere with protest signs galore in every area and the main tunnel of LAUPT. I made my way safely down to the Track 13-14 tunnel and watched people, which today was really interesting. A PRS person then told me the train was in the yard and would come into Track 5. We walked over and up to Track 6 and waited for our train to Perris.

The Perris Express

One Metrolink train arrived but the second one had the "National Forum" in its consist so we all knew that our train was coming in. I walked to get into position to get on the bicycle car and once the doors opened, I boarded and took the rear table on the left side. I called Chris Parker and told him what car number I was in and Robin found me because he knew my preference. Robin sat across from me and Chris Parker was next to me for the trip to Perris. We were delayed even more because a woman took a fall but at 9:50 AM, the Perris Express started the trip.

We started leaving Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal.

Dodger Stadium up on the hill to the north.

We made it to only Mission Tower when we were stopped by a red signal. After a few minutes we had a red-over-yellow signal and crept forward to the connection to the Metrolink mainline.

First we crossed the West Bank line.

Next the crossing of the Los Angeles River.

That was followed by the junction with the East Bank line and a meet with Metrolink 353 before heading east.

The grade of the old Pacific Electric to Pasadena.

After the Cal State Los Angeles station, we crossed the westbound lanes of the San Bernardino Freeway and headed down the middle of that highway.

Near El Monte, we escaped the San Bernardino Freeway and climbed the El Monte flyover high above the Rio Hondo River.

Two views of Mount Wilson.

The old Southern Pacific Sunset Route crossed the Rio Hondo River.

Two views of Mount Baldy, also known as Mount San Antonio.

Three views of the San Gabriel Mountains.

Crossing the San Gabriel River.

This is where Walnut Creek enters the San Gabriel River. We went into the siding at Bassett and waited for Metrolink 357.

We stopped with a very nicely-painted tank car BOCX 3039 at a plant. Metrolink 357 went by us and we proceeded through the Baldwin Park station then made the turn east.

The old sand and gravel pits along our route. We went straight through the Covina station.

The ever-present San Gabriel Mountains.

As we sped through the Pomona North station, the former Santa Fe station came into view.

Next we ran by the Santa Fe station in Claremont.

A very needed dam at the base of the mountains with our extremely wet rainy season this year. We then passed through the Montclair station.

The clouds were now covering the mountains before we reached Upland station.

A wye before we ran through the Rancho Cucamonga station then into the BNSF Kaiser Yard before running through the Fontana station.

Two views north before Rialto station.

A view after the Rialto station before we went under the Palmdale Cutoff.

The former Southern Pacific Palmdale Cutoff.

Lyle Creek Wash Channel. We then climbed the San Bernardino Metrolink flyover.

The old San Bernardino Santa Fe Shops smokestack still stands.

We crossed over BNSF A Yard and started down the San Bernardino Metrolink flyover.

The San Bernardino Mountains to the north.

The BNSF A Yard in San Bernardino before we pulled into what is left of the San Bernardino station where our engineer will switch ends.

A Union Pacific DPU went east on a train while we waited to depart. We would next proceed south to Highgrove.

The Union Pacific flyover in Colton.

Crossing the Santa Ana River with the old Pacific Electric Riverside bridge in the view. We soon arrived at Highgrove and went south just past the switch to the new connection to the Metrolink Perris Line. The engine crew switched ends once again and he returned to the locomotive. While we sat they announced we would stop at every new station and could get off and take pictures of the train and station at each.

A Union Pacific local was switching a lumber yard with engine 4000, not a Big Boy.

The train started around the Perris Line connection.

An eastbound BNSF stack train headed through Highgrove on the mainline.

The train at the Hunter Park/UCR station.

Box Springs Mountain.

The grade of the former Pacific Electric Riverside line.

Views as the train climbed the Box Springs grade.

The train at the Moreno Valley/March Field station. Now we would run straight to the South Perris station, so enjoy the views to South Perris.

The trip to South Perris station.

Our train at South Perris. Our engine crew would switch ends one last time for us and take us back to the Perris-Downtown station.

A view on the way to the Perris-Downtown station. We walked back to the cab car to detrain.

Two views of our train at the Perris-Downtown station.

Click here for Part 2 of this story!