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First Runs of Weekend Surfliners 799 and 780

by Chris Guenzler

On Saturday May 25, 2002 Amtrak started the new weekend Surfliner service out of Los Angeles to Goleta with an around noon departure back to Los Angeles and after a forty minute layover on down to San Diego. Since there is no connection from Orange County for this service, I elected to drive to Norwalk and took the Green Line to the Blue Line and then the Red Line to Los Angeles Union Station. I arrived at LAUPT about twenty five minutes early and walked up to the platform finding two Surfliner trains one on track 9 and the other on track 8. Track 8 must be 568 as it had no life to it so I walked around to the other train, the new 799 which opened in a few minutes. Across from my platform one track over were Metrolink passengers waiting for a train which would not run and after I told them about the bus to El Monte they went off to find it. Mike was my conductor for this round trip. I boarded Pacific Business Class and was joined only by a women and her all over the place daughter and a couple downstairs. The train left LAUPT on time as I drank some tea and labeled the slides from my trip to Minnesota where I rode the Minnesota Zephyr Dinner Train and the Milwaukee Road 261. It was a very gray morning as the train left along the Los Angeles and passed where the Pasadena Gold Line Shops are being built. The engine tracks at Taylor were the most empty that I had ever seen. We made our stops with few if any passengers boarding this new train. We ran on-time across the San Fernando Valley and made all the stops along the route. We went through the three tunnels as I finished labeling the slides and I enjoyed the view for the rest of the trip. Simi Valley was next followed by Moorpark where we met Surfliner 772. We arrived in Oxnard early before running to Ventura followed by the great Coastal running always fantastic in any weather. As we pulled in to Santa Barbara early we met Surfliner 776. Total passengers aboard were 31. After detraining, I said hello to Jack Wilson before going to Bebop Burger for an early lunch. I returned to the depot, read the USA Today Weekend Edition before doing a word fill in and listening to some music. Before departure, I walked over to the Subway for an ice cream cone before train 780 pulled in from Goleta.

I boarded Business Class and rested as the early morning had caught up with me. We met Surfliner 765 at Santa Barbara, the Coast Starlight at Ventura and an UP Freight at CP Madera. We stayed at Moorpark before going into the new extended siding complete with signal bridge at Hasson where we met Surfliner 771. It was a quick trip back into Los Angeles where the train would layover forty-two minutes. Total passenger aboard this trip was 75. My return to Norwalk was right on schedule with the longest wait between trains on each line being three minutes at 7th and Flower and walking onto the Green Line train as it pulled into Rosa Parks. I drove home and despite traffic on Interstate 5, I beat train 780 to Santa Ana by fifteen minutes. It was a great day of train and transit riding.