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Coast Starlight Detour Trip 2019

by Chris Guenzler

Metrolink decided to rebuild bridges in the San Fernando Valley over the weekend of September 7 and 8, 2019 so I got Coast Starlight Business Class tickets for Bill Compton and I. Then they switched it to the weekend of September 14 and 15, 2019 so I switched the Jack London Inn to the next weekend. Chris Parker and his friend Nick decided to ride as well. We all looked forward to the detour over both Tehachapi and Altamont Passes.

9/14/2019 After my usual Saturday duties I was ready at 7:20 AM when Bill pulled up and we drove to the Santa Ana train station and parked in the parking structure. We took the elevators over to Track 1 to wait for Pacific Surfliner 763 to Los Angeles.

First train of the day was Pacific Surfliner 1564.

Twenty minutes later Pacific Surfliner 763 came in and Bill and I took seats in the Surfliner Coach. The train made its way to Anaheim and Fullerton before we made our final sprint to Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal. Bill and I got a Red Cap ride to the Metropolitan Lounge. We met Brian and after a bathroom break we walked up to the platform to wait for the Coast Starlight to back into LAUPT.

Coast Starlight 14 9/14/2019

Coast Starlight 14 backed into LAUPT. We boarded by giving our attendant our names. We were told to remain seated until our tickets were scanned.

Brian sitting across from me.

Bill sitting next to me. The train left LAUPT on time and we were on our way to Oakland. Later the conductor scanned our tickets.

Chris Parker and Nick.

Bob Riskie and Brian in the lounge car.

Chris Parker took a picture of the author, Christopher Dean Guenzler.

The historic marker of the completion of the Southern Pacific Railroad at Lang, CA in 1876.

The Vasquez Rocks.

More rocks east of the Vasquez Rocks.

Later the Palmdale Cutoff came into view and Bill Compton started his new rail mileage to Newark.

Much later the Lockheed Skunk plant.

Leaving Mohave the windmills on the mountains.

Looking back towards the tunnel section of our route.

Rolling west through Marcel. That would take through the tunnel to the world's famous Tehachapi Loop.

For the first time on these trip there is a BNSF train on the Tehachapi Loop.

Looking down on the mainline we will be on in a few minutes.

The back of the train on the Tehachapi Loop.

The Coast Starlight on the Tehachapi Loop.

Completing the Tehachapi Loop.

Curving below the Tehachapi Loop.

Later looking out from Cliff Siding.

Looking down to Caliente.

Looking down on Bealville.

Coming out of Tunnel 5.

The Shoo-fly from the 1952 earthquake reconstruction.

Looking back on Tunnel 5.

Looking out from Bealville.

Coming out of Tunnel 2.

Looking down at Caliente.

The BNSF train waiting for us at Caliente.

The train took the Horseshoe Curve at Caliente. I relaxed until Bakersfield where the new conductor took the service dogs for a walk and a pee.

We left Bakersfield at 3:52 PM and continued north on this trip. At Saco we met the southbound Coast Starlight then a Union Pacific freight at Cowelo then at Tipton we went into the siding to wait another Union Pacific freight that hit a car. We took a ninety minute hit and I had the Signature Steak eating my entire meal without moving an inch. The freight went by us and we took off at track speed heading to Tulare and beyond. We ran through Goshen Jct., Kingsburg, Selma, Fowler before entering Fresno in the last light of the day. By the time we got to Madera we were a night train running through Chowchilla and into Merced. From here we ran straight to Turlock and through Modesto and on to Manteca where we came to a stop. They switched train crews before they wyed the train at Lathrop and then we headed to the former Western Pacific route to take us to Niles where we would run to Newark ending our detour. From there we ran the rest of the way north to the Oakland Jack London station at 12:37 AM, where Bill and I detrained into the night. We walked to the Jack London Inn for the night.

9/15/2019 I got up, showered before I walked over to the Buttercup Restaurant on Broadway and had excellent French Toast and really crispy bacon with some orange juice. My southbound train was over two hours late this morning. When Bill returns from the motel's breakfast we will go out and take pictures of trains to kill some of the time. We checked out and set up for pictures.

First train of the day was a Union Pacific train switching.

Here he is again for the second time.

Next a Capitol Corridor train heading to Sacramento came by us. I went into the station and got us San Joaquin train and bus tickets plus tickets on Pacific Surfliner 792 back to Santa Ana. I was a happy train rider.

Next a Union Pacific auto train came by my photo location.

The Oakland Jack London Amtrak station.

San Joaquin 712 9/15/2019

San Joaquin 712 for Bakersfield came into the station and we boarded the second car. The train left Oakland on time but was delayed getting into Emeryville by that Capitol train that left before us. We ran to Richmond then onto Martinez where we waited for the Coast Starlight to transfer to our train. We left Martinez and Bill was on new mileage all the way to Bakersfield. We ran to Port Chicago then entered the BNSF mainline to Bakersfield for the rest of the trip. The train ran to Antioch then crossed the California Delta on the way to Stockton. We ran through a BNSF construction zone but then got up to track speed. Chris Parker was in Turlock-Denair as we were in Escalon. We are running over fifty minutes late. Mr. Parker is two hours twenty minutes late. We stopped in Modesto then sprinted to Turlock-Denair before we ran to Merced and a crew change. From there we ran to Fresno, then to Hanford and onto Cocoran. From there it was on to Wasco then the final sprint into Bakersfield arriving at 4:41 PM {3:57 PM}.

The Thruway Bus 9/15/2019

Bill and I left the train and headed straight to the Amtrak Thruway Bus and took our seats for the train bus to LAUPT. The trip was fast and didn't take all that long on this late Sunday afternoon. We arrived into LAUPT and walked up to the platform for the final train of the trip.

Pacific Surfliner 592 9/15/2019

The trip was quick. We left LAUPT on time then sprinted to Fullerton followed by Anaheim and to our last stop of Santa Ana. We walked to the parking structure and Bill drove me home ending another great Amtrak adventure.