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The Los Angeles Blue and Green Lines 4/15/2004

by Chris Guenzler

Winston Walker, a member of our Orange County Railroad Historical Society, has started riding trains and together we have already done most of the Metrolink lines and the Gold line. He asked me to join him as we explored the Blue and Green Light Rail Lines of Los Angeles. We picked Thursday the 15th of April, Tax Day 2004, to make this trip since I was on my Spring Break. Here is our adventure on this day.

I started out taking Surfliner 562 down to San Juan Capristrano in order to make sure we would have two seats together on the northbound train to Los Angeles. I was greeted by Conductor Roy and enjoyed my early morning trip to San Juan Capristrano. I used my time there to get a ticket for a future trip and waited for a late running Surfliner 763. The ever friendly Conductor Marisol greeted me and I took a seat in the Coach/Cafe. I rode back to Santa Ana and stepped off in order for Winston to see what car I was riding in. He sat down and out of my bag came a box of Krispy Creme Donuts that I had bought on 562 since 763 does not get their donuts until Los Angeles. I did this for Winston as 763 had no donuts when we went to Santa Barbara on Monday of this week. We passed 564 at Orange as we made our way to Fullerton. From there to Los Angeles it was a slow ride as 763 must have been following something but I never found out what. We arrived into Los Angeles Union Station 18 minutes late and I knew in my heart unless we made all of our connections prefect, the 1:15 PM train to Riverside would be impossible. As I always say though, "Every trip is an adventure!"

We stopped off at the restroom before we ventured in to the Red Line Station. As usual the ticketing machines would not take cash but since I had dollar coins from our Tuesday Metrolink trip I bought the two day passes at $3.00 a piece, a real bargain. We went down the stairs to a waiting Red Line Subway Train to Wilshire/Western which we boarded for our short trip to 7th and Metro. Once there, we transferred to the Blue Line Light Rail Train for our trip to Long Beach after it had pulled in about twelve minutes after we arrived.

Once that train arrived it emptied out all the commuters on their way to work. Once we had our chance we boarded taking a pair of seats on the west side of the trolley. The operator was changed out and once our new operator was settled we started to Long Beach down a long tunnel to daylight. Upon exiting the tunnel the Staples Center and Los Angeles Convention Center was passed before we arrived at the Pico Station. We ran a few blocks before we ducked under the Interstate 10 {Santa Monica Freeway} to Washington Boulevard where we made a left on to a route down the middle of the street. In the median of Washington Boulevard was the Grand and San Pedro Station. Along here to the north was the Olympic Auditorium which was once the home of the Los Angeles Thunderbirds, that Roller Derby Team I watched as a kid. Graffiti increased on the buildings as we headed east to where we left Washington Boulevard and turned south into the Washington Station. From this point to Long Beach we would be on the former Pacific Electric Route to Long Beach. We picked up speed as we ran to our next station at Vernon. Along here the former SP {UP} Wilmington Line joined our route from the east. This line is now the route to the harbor for trains that do not use the Alameda Corridor. As we approached the Slauson Station the line climbs the grade over the former Santa Fe Harbor Line {BNSF}. On this elevated structure the Wilmington Line went under our route to run down to Long Beach Harbor on the west side as we made our way to the Florence Station. As we headed through Watts we climbed another grade that took us over Firestone Boulevard before the Firestone Station. Back on the ground we ran to 103rd Street/ Kenneth Hahn. Our next stop was under the Century Freeway at the Wilmington/Imperial/Rosa Parks. A stairway, elevator or escalator can take you easily to the Green Line. There was a UP Stack Train blocking all the crossings near this station. Back up to speed we ran to the Compton Station. As we neared our next station at Artesia another UP Stack Train was stopped but had broken itself at the crossing at the station so that passengers could exit to the bus stop. A crossing further south had a police officer not looking to happy at that stack train. We climbed a grade that took us over Alameda Boulevard and the now ground level Alameda Corridor to the Del Amo Station. We stayed elevated over the Long Beach Freeway, crossed the Union Pacific Harbor Line, went by the shops below with the PE painted trolley sticking its nose out of the shops before we crossed the Los Angeles River. We went under the San Diego Freeway {405} to the Wardlow Station followed shortly to the Willow Station. Our train next turned south onto Long Beach Boulevard with stops in the middle of the median at Pacific Coast Highway, 5th Street, crossed the return loop through downtown Long Beach and 1st Street. We made our right hand turn onto 1st Street then went a few blocks to the Transit Mall where we stopped for a five minutes break.

Once on the move again we turned north onto Pacific Avenue to the Park Station. We turned right onto 8th Street which took us back to Long Beach Boulevard. We retraced our route back to the Imperial Station. The Stack Train at Artesia was gone and the one at Wilmington was now broken into four sections. At Imperial we detrolleyed and headed up the stairs to the Green Line.

Once we were on the Green Line platform our plan was to take the first trolley that arrived. We noticed a work crew on the south track with a red flag closing that track. I saw a trolley approaching from the west next it stopped. From the east came a trolley but had test in its destination board so it went flying by. The trolley from the west then crossed over to the north track and came into the station which is located in the middle of the Century Freeway. We boarded and soon the trolley took off but at a reduced speed. We ran to the Long Beach Boulevard Station and after our station work we crossed back to the south track and onto the Lakewood Station. We continued east to the end of the line after we crossed the San Gabriel River and 605 Freeway we stopped at the I-605/I-105 Norwalk Station. There is a free shuttle from here to the Norwalk/Santa Fe Springs Metrolink Station.

We switched to the first car for our trip west to Marine/Redondo. After switching drivers, we headed back west down the middle of the I-105 Freeway. Once we returned to Rosa Park where we started we continued to the Avalon Station. The next stop was the Harbor Freeway Station located high above the bus lane over the I-110 Freeway. Remember the movie Speed with the bus flying through the air. That bridge now completed is located here on the northeast side of the interchange. Our next stop was Crenshaw Station and then on the south side you can see the ex PE Line {UP} to Torrance. Hawthorne Station was next located north of their local airport. Next we went through the bridges of the I-105/I-405 interchange to the Aviation Station where I once connected to LAX via the free Green Line Shuttle. We traveled over the ex Santa Fe Harbor line on its way to Wilmington. They did build a way to connect a line to LAX if they would ever build one. Our route left the I-105 Freeway and curved to the south on an elevated structure to the Mariposa/Nash Station. We continued above ground to my favorite Green Line Station the one at El Segundo/Nash Station with the giant hand holding a giant steel in the shape of a paper airplane. We crossed over the PE Redondo Beach Line and was rejoined by the Santa Fe Harbor line. The railroad has a huge bridge over Rosecrans Avenue before we arrived at the Douglas/Rosecrans Station. We briefly returned to the ground so the tracks can have access to the Green Line Shops before we climbed to our last stop at the Marine/Redondo Station. All the stations on the Metro Rail Lines all have their own unique artwork so a trip is always interesting as you can always notice something different or new.

After a few minutes we returned east to Rosa Parks and the Blue line. We waited a few minutes for Blue Line Trolley to take us back to the Red Line. I pointed out the Watts Tower to Winston and the old Watts PE Station. We made good time but our connection to the Red Line at 7th/Metro really killed us from making the Riverside Train. That was a good thing as I was now getting hungry so a trip to Philippe's was now in order. We returned to Union Station and then took the Gold Line one stop to Chinatown where we walked to my favorite LA restaurant. Now filled and satisfied we returned to LAUPT via Olvera Street. I showed Winston the Bullfighting in Los Angeles plaque before we returned to LAUPT and used the new Metrolink ticket machines. I must say the old ticketing machines were easier to use. We purchased our off peak ticket towards home but with me going to Irvine to get my 796,000 rail mile on my return to Santa Ana from there. It was a really good trip and it was loads of fun. I returned home to wait to take my next trip.