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A ride on the Pony Express Los Angeles to Santa Barbara 6/29/2005

by Chris Guenzler

Todd Clark of had posted a post about people not riding private car owners deadhead movements. A deadhead movement is when a car is moved to get in position for a public or private trip. This post then led me to an ad by Stan Garner about him running his car to Oakland to be in position for the Trains Unlimited Trip and offered trips to Oakland for $99 for the full trip but offers for shorter segments would be accepted. I made on offer Los Angeles to Santa Barbara which Stan accepted. Next I asked if my Mother could come for the same rate with an affirmative answer. I asked if I could then bring some else at that rate with another yes. The first wonderful person I asked could not make it but I asked my good train riding and proof reading friend Winston if he wanted to come and he said yes. We checked the southbound Starlight the day before tracking it south hoping it would get into LAUPT before midnight so we would have a good chance of leaving on time in the morning.

Waking up and after my morning duties, my Mother and I drove to the Santa Ana Amtrak Station. Here we meet Winston and waited for Surfliner 763 to arrive.

First the Union Pacific Costa Mesa local came rolling through Santa Ana on its way back to its own tracks.

Surfliner 763 6/29/2005

My Mother and Winston waiting as Surfliner 763 pulled into Santa Ana. We boarded the lower level of the Surfliner Cab Car and a few minutes later Conductor CJ took our tickets for the trip to Los Angeles. The train made a slower than normal trip to LAUPT due to some BNSF freight congestion. We arrived and it was announced that all Coast Starlight passengers were to go into the station as the train wouldn't be into the station until 10:45. We stayed on the platform but left to get snacks and use the bathroom. With things at home my Mother needed to do and the later it got, my Mother decided not to come and I put her on Surfliner 572 for home.

Coast Starlight 6/29/2005

The Coast Starlight backed into LAUPT at 10:45 AM, half an hour after we should have left. This version of the Starlight had P42DCs 122 and 192, Baggage 1171, Transition 39045, Sleepers 32014 Oklahoma, 32085 Kentucky and 32078 Florida, Parlor Car 39972, Diner 38046, Lounge 33032, Coaches 34034, 34512, 31026 and 34061 with the Pony Express PPCX 800320 on the rear.

I took pictures of the Pony Express after getting the consist.

Winston enjoying the Pony Express. We departed LAUPT at 11:06 AM.

Surfliner 572 waiting to leave with my Mother aboard.

The Starlight rolled by former Terminal Tower now no longer in service. We turned north along the west side of the Los Angeles River passing the Gold Line Maintenance Facility then crossed the Los Angeles River.

The Pony Express rolled along the Metrolink Maintenance Facility.

A leased Sounder Cab Car. I will be riding this service in Seattle in two weeks. We ran through Glendale which seemed funny not stopping as the Coast Starlight no longer serves that station after all these years now stopping at Van Nuys.

A Union Pacific freight passed through the Downtown Burbank Metrolink Station. The large baggage car doors of the Pony Express allows not only for great views but also great pictures.

The Coast Starlight turned west at Burbank Junction for the trip across the San Fernando Valley.

An all Southern Pacific consist at Gemco right before we stopped at Van Nuys. Further west at CP Elliker we met Metrolink 112. We ran west through Northridge on a beautiful clear California late morning.

The Coast Starlight took the turn that took it through Chatsworth.

The Starlight makes the next turn taking it to the first tunnel.

We entered the 537 foot Tunnel 28.

Our train passed beneath the Chatsworth Rocks before it entered Tunnel 27, a 934 foot bore.

The Starlight then entered the 7369 foot Tunnel 26, our gateway to the Simi Valley. At CP Hasson we met Surfliner 774 before we stopped at Simi Valley. Once on the move again we flew west through Moorpark and Camarillo.

The Coast Starlight took the big curve from Camarillo towards Oxnard. Alex Ramos joined us onboard during our Oxnard station stop. He is a young excellent photographer. The Starlight headed out of Oxnard then crossed the Santa Clara River.

The Starlight took the curve at Montalvo. From here we rolled west through the city of Ventura then crossed the Ventura River.

The Starlight meets the surf just west of Ventura.

View along old Highway 101 just east of Seacliff siding.

Running below one of the bluffs that gave the Union Pacific Railroad so much trouble this last very wet winter here in Southern California. We turned the next corner and ran by the landslide at La Conchita.

Our train heading for Rincon Point.

The surf between Rincon Point and Carpintaria.

We returned to high above the surf west of the old siding location of Ortega. From here the Starlight ran straight into Santa Barbara getting there at 12:42 PM where Winston and I plus everyone else except Alex and Stan detrained.

A picture of Alex Ramos who was riding with Stan to San Jose.

The Coast Starlight pulled out of Santa Barbara heading to Seattle. Stan and the Pony Express would be cut off at Oakland and I would see them again on Saturday in Emeryville on the Trains Unlimited Trip to the 2005 NRHS Convention in Portland, Oregon. Winston and I visited Subway for some sandwiches to go. We could have eaten them there as our southbound Surfliner 784 was twelve minutes late pulling into Santa Barbara as it could not leave its siding at Goleta until the Coast Starlight had arrived.

Surfliner 784 6/29/2005

We boarded the train and took our seats for the trip home. We ran to Seacliff where we waited on 769 to pass after an eight minute wait. Sorry no dolphin sightings today. Later we met Surfliner 775 at Hasson and a UP westbound freight at Chatsworth. We met Metrolink 111 at CP Balboa. We arrived into LAUPT at 5:02 PM after waiting for Metrolink Riverside and Orange County line trains to depart at Mission Tower. We waited in Los Angeles for a late San Joaquin Bus due to an accident on Interstate 5 and connecting passengers from the 7 hours late westbound Sunset Limited. We slowly crawled out of the platform at 5:32 PM. We waited and had to follow Metrolink 708, a 91 line train to Riverside that left LAUPT late. We made our way to Hobart Yard and came to a stop at 5:44 PM due to a malfunctioning signal which has train traffic backed up both ways.

We sat and sat and sat before I took a picture of a pair of BNSF engines to finish up this roll of film. Movement occurred again at 6:23 PM with us running at restricted speed until Bandani. At Santa Fe Springs we returned to restricting as we had caught up to Metrolink 708. We departed Fullerton at 6:54 PM {5:42 PM} then Anaheim 7:02 PM {5:51 PM} before arriving into Santa Ana at 7:09 PM {6:00 PM}. This ended a great trip aboard the Pony Express to Santa Barbara and I can not wait to ride on that car again on the three day Trains Unlimited Trip to the NRHS 2005 Convention in Portland.