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A look at both Coaster and Metrolink Services

by Chris Guenzler


With both of these services now no longer being operated by Amtrak, I decided to sample both. I was going to try to sample both on Tuesday August 15th, 2006 by taking Surfliner 572 to San Diego, Coaster 643 to Oceanside and Metrolink 609 home to Santa Ana. That plan did not work since 572 arrived into Santa Ana 26 minutes late. Going down to the Santa Ana Station did allow me to photograph the continuing progress of our new east platform.

Metrolink 851 leaves Santa Ana as they are finishing up the bridge. It still needs to be painted and the roof tiles added.

The tarp was removed and now you get a look at what the West Tower will look like.

The East Tower is coming along nicely.

Work is taking place replacing the former walkway with a true station platform. The middle platform will be removed once our east platform is done.

The shelter is being tiled and like everything else will match the station.

Surfliner 572 finally arrived into Santa Ana. I rode down to Irvine and when the train lost even more time there I detrained and returned to Santa Ana on Surfliner 573. Onboard, I came up with a new plan to do this. I could take Surfliner 562 to San Diego, take Coaster 635 to Oceanside and then Surfliner 573 back to Santa Ana. Since Winston Walker and myself were planning on going to Lancaster on Thursday taking Metrolink later the whole way I could cover. Late in the afternoon, I got a new idea to show you our other rail construction project in Santa Ana. I walked down to Lincoln Street like I had for years but this time ready to take a few pictures for you all.

The views along Lincoln with welded rail that has been here for over a year.

CP Lincoln which now has a signal bridge being put in for the future double tracking from CP Lincoln to CP La Veta in Orange. The new track bridge across Santiago Creek was put in last year.

Surfliner 582 heading south towards San Diego.

Surfliner 583 blasted through CP Lincoln and across 17th Street in Santa Ana. I returned to wait for my Coaster trip tomorrow.

Surfliner 562 8/16/2006

Surfliner 562 arrived into Santa Ana just a few minutes late and we were off to San Diego. Our train passed Metrolink 683 and 607 on double track on the way to San Juan Capistrano. At CP Serra we met Surfliner 563. This morning after running along the beach through San Clemente we did not met Metrolink 850 at CP Songs like we usually do but further south at CP Los Pulgas. We did our usual met with Surfliner 565 at Oceanside as we took the siding there. We left Oceanside on time and headed south to Solana Beach.

On the way to Solana Beach, we passed the new bridge across the Agua Herronda Lagoon. We arrived into Solana Beach but waited for Coaster 633 to arrive. Surfliner 562 then ran down to Sorrento Valley ran through the siding around Surfliner 567. From here we had a straight shot into San Diego arriving on time.

San Diego 8/16/2006

Surfliner 562 has arrived into San Diego. I walked into the station for a Coca-Cola but got a Coca-Cola Cherry Vanilla instead. It was to say that it was a very interesting drink. I bought my Coaster Ticket then sat on a bench to wait to board the train parked here with its doors closed.

As I waited to board the Coaster, the San Diego Trolley kept running by. Surfliner 769 was boarded at 9:18 AM with our doors still closed so no Amtrak passengers would board by mistake. The Coaster Crew boarded the cab car at 9:22 AM then opened the door with no announcement being made.

Coaster 635 8/16/2006

This train had engine 2101, Coaches 2206, 2201, 2402 and 2502 along with Cab Car 2302. I took an upstairs table seat so I could write the story as I go north to Oceanside. At 9:25 AM "This is the northbound Coaster to Oceanside departing at 9:45 AM." It was interesting to watch the comical last second boarding of Surfliner 769 which departed a few minutes late waiting for their last minute arrivals to get on their train. At 9:42 AM "This is the northbound train to Oceanside departing at 9:45 AM for Old Town, Sorrento Valley, Solana Beach, Encinitas, Carlsbad Poinsettia, Carlsbad Village and Oceanside." Three minutes later, "Doors are closing, stand clear!" Our train departed San Diego on time and headed north to Oceanside. As the train closed in on Old Town, "Now arriving Old Town, take all your belongings with you and thank you for riding the Coaster Service." We stopped at Old Town then came, "Attention Ladies and Gentlemen doors are closing!" We waited at Old Town for southbound Coaster 640. "Attention Ladies and Gentlemen, our next station stop is Sorrento Valley." At CP Tecolate we took the siding for Surfliner 564 then returned to the mainline at CP Balboa. We climbed Rose Canyon to CP Cumbres then descended the Miramar Grade. Our conductor then walked the train punching all the tickets with his ticket puncher as the train was climbing Rose Canyon. We reached Sorrento Valley with all the announcements basically the same for the rest of the trip. After departing Sorrento Valley, we ran along the bluffs at Del Mar, by the world famous race track and on into Solana Beach. Our next stop on this very overcast morning was Encinitas. At CP Ponto we took the siding and met Surfliner 566 before we arrived into Carlsbad Poinsettia. At CP Farr, we returned to the mainline passing the new bridge construction before we arrived into Carlsbad Village. We took off for Oceanside and at Escondido Jct we began to pass the new grade construction for the future Sprinter Service to reach the Oceanside Station. We arrived into Oceanside on time at 10:45 AM.

Coaster 635 after it arrived into Oceanside. I went to the Coke Machine and this time got the real Coca-Cola for my trip home. I decided to see what the view would be like from the new parking structure to the north of the station. I took the stairs up to the top level to check out picture taking angles.

This picture was taken through the green tinted window by the elevator at the southwest corner of the structure.

At the top level in the middle of the structure I zoomed in this view of Coaster 635 ready to turn into Coaster 644 back to San Diego. I would be returning to Santa Ana on Surfliner 573 in about forty minutes. I waited inside the station until it became too noisy before I sat out on the platform to wait there for my train to arrive into Oceanside.

Surfliner 573 8/16/2006

I boarded and just read one of my notebooks of old trips as the train headed north. We met Surfliner 768 at Stuart Mesa and after San Juan Capistrano met Metrolink 851 as we were stopping at Laguna Niguel. On the way to Irvine we met 572 before we crossed over to Track 2 to Santa Ana where we found a broken down Metrolink 852 which was heading south out of Santa Ana back to Oceanside to get fixed as we pulled in. I would go home and relax now until my Metrolink Trip to Lancaster tomorrow.

Metrolink 807 8/17/2006

I drove down to the Santa Ana Train Station and parked in the northwest lot before buying my Metrolink tickets for the day. I waited for Metrolink 807 which would take me to Tustin to meet with Winston Walker. The train came in right on time and I boarded for the 4.3 mile trip to the Tustin Station. I got off the train went down the stairs and found Winston waiting for me. We walked under the tracks and up the ramp to Track 1. The thing I like about the Tustin Station is that when I wait for westbound trains I can see them for miles in the distance approaching this station.

Metrolink 607 8/17/2006

We took upstairs seats in the second coach for our trip to LAUPT. We stopped at Santa Ana, Orange, Anaheim, Fullerton, Norwalk, Commerce and on into Los Angeles early.

One of the private cars at the station while the private car tracks are being worked on. Other cars are down in the 8th Street Coach Yard.

Gold Line Bridge Construction on their East Los Angeles Extension. We waited on the Track 5 platform for our train to Lancaster.

Metrolink 205 8/17/2006

At 9:11 AM the train pulled into the station from Lancaster and we boarded the Cab Car. This train had engine 853, Coaches 150, 175 and 185 with Cab Car 609. While I was outside our conductor made his opening announcements listing all station stops and that tickets were required to carried by all aboard this train. He repeated that announcement two minutes before we left Los Angeles. We departed LAUPT on time then came "Ladies and Gentlemen, please be aware of your personal belongings and notify the conductor of any suspicious or unattended packages aboard the train". This is a required TSA Announcement that was never made once on the Coaster. As we ran along the Los Angeles River tickets were checked. The train passed the Gold Line Shops and on to the Metrolink shops.

Sounder Cars wait for their turn to be serviced.

We met Metrolink 110 with the ACE {Altamont Commuter Express} leased cars on our way to Glendale.

After Glendale, the Gentlemen's Club was seen. Anyone remember the Alice Cooper Muscle of Love inside sleeve to the album. We stopped at Downtown Burbank then ran onto Sun Valley. We went into the siding for a UP eastbound piggyback train before we ran to Sylmar/San Fernando. The train then made the climb under the freeway bridges to the San Fernando Tunnel, also known as Tunnel 25.

The light at the end of the tunnel as we entered Tunnel 25, a 6976 foot bore.

The west portal of Tunnel 25. We met Metrolink 212 before we arrived in Newhall. We next saw the UP Saugus Local switching before we turned the corner heading east to Santa Clarita. The train then ran onto Via Princessa and after we left a second Security Announcement was made. Our train then ran on the most scenic part of the line through Soledad Canyon.

The only crossing of the Santa Paula River.

Tunnel 19 328 feet long.

Tunnel 18 266 feet long.

Passing under Soledad Canyon Road.

The Vasquez Rocks before we passed the Wild Animal Park with no active animals on this trip. We passed Thousand Trails RV Park as we rolled to the Vincent Grade/Acton Station. The train has reached the summit of Vincent Hill and started rolling down grade towards Palmdale.

Descending into the Antelope Valley, part of the larger Mojave Desert. We ran down to Palmdale Jct where the Palmdale Cutoff joined our route and we switched onto Metrolink owned tracks that run along the old SP Line into Lancaster. We ran to the Palmdale Station before making our final sprint to Lancaster arriving on time. I detrained for a picture before returning aboard doing a pair of Major League Sudoku Puzzles during our layover in Lancaster.

Metrolink 214 8/17/2006

The train left Lancaster and I relaxed all the way back. It was a nice quiet trip until we reached Via Princessa. A young man got on talking loudly in his cell phone then swearing at least ten different times. A few minutes later at CP Saugas we met Metrolink 207. At Newhall, another guy speaking to his mother on a cell phone was using language I would never use with my mother. After Glendale we met Metrolink 109 along the Los Angeles River. We arrived into Union station early.

Winston and I walked over to Phillipes for lunch. Since I am one of the fastest walkers I had to adjust my walk to match his which I did successfully. Lunch was fantastic and we returned to the station to wait to board our last train of the day. On Track 7 one of the Sounder Sets came in for a run to San Bernardino.

Metrolink 310 ready to leave to San Bernardino.

Metrolink 684 8/17/2006

After the Sounder Set left for San Bernardino they opened the doors to Train 684. We took a table in the rear section of the Cab Car. We left Los Angeles on time stopping at Commerce, Norwalk, Fullerton, Anaheim and Orange before we stopped in Santa Ana where I detrained. Winston stayed on until Tustin where he ended his trip. I went home to write this story thus ending another great day of riding Metrolink.